The Paperweight And The Journal
If you've known Takato as long as Hirokazu and I have, you'd know that, until Guilmon, Takato had always wanted a pet. When he was eight, he got in huge trouble for bringing home a cat an old lady gave to him at the park (She was one of those crazy cat ladies, in his defense he talked her down from giving him six cats). His family can't keep pets, they run a bakery and most pets would violate health codes. Last thing anyone wants is a cat hair in their Guilmon bread (or, in that case, an entire cat - it got loose and jumped into a batch of dough).
Guilmon, of course, was the exception since he was data and generally well behaved. But since our partners went back about four years ago, Takato's been sorta lonely again...Well, not too long ago, Takato's parents finally gave in and let their son have the pet he always wanted. He was thrilled when he told us a couple months ago. We almost thought Guilmon was back, he was so excited about "his new friend." He told Hirokazu, Jen and I at school, "I finally got a pet, guys! Seriously! He's so cool! Come by after school to meet him! Please?"
Takato wanted to surprise us with what the pet was, but given how excited he was...In all honestly, we all thought he got a puppy or something. So, when we went to Takato's place and up to his room and met "Tama-kun" for the first time...
...Hirokazu summed things up nicely. "Takato, that's not a pet. That's a paperweight with legs."
They got him a turtle. Not the most exciting of pets (unless your name is Takato Matsuda), but it was something alive that Takato could keep in his room. Only rule was he had to wash his hands before helping out in the kitchen (which he does anyway, just extra now).
Takato wasn't fazed by Hirokazu's lack of enthusiasm. He had his pet turtle! Tama-kun is a Zhou's Box Turtle, a species native to China. He's got a bright green shell and his body is olive-green-ish. For a turtle, he's actually kinda active. He almost jumped off Takato's table a couple times when Takato put him on it so we could "get to know him." Yes, Takato wanted us to get to know his pet turtle...
...We're sort of humoring him with this since, well, like Hirokazu and I explained to Jen, ever since he was a little kid: Takato. Wanted. A. Pet. So finally having one is sort of huge to him. Guilmon didn't exactly count since, one, Digimon are partners, not pets. Two, Guilmon didn't live at the bakery, Tama-kun does. He lives in an old fish tank-turned-terrarium on Takato's dresser.
Anyway, Takato's had Tama-kun for about three months now. Since summer break started, Takato's been worried about how hot it would get in his room for Tama-kun. He always keeps that sliding glass door to his balcony open to keep Tama-kun nice and comfortable (he tried a day without, it gets sweltering in that room, even on a relatively cool day!). It works fine, he gets a little cold at night but he'll survive for his precious turtle...
Takato's parents are going on vacation to a hot springs resort. Naturally, Takato's going along with them. And since he can't leave his door open when no-one's there to watch the place or bring Tama-kun with him...
...Takato asked Hirokazu and I to "room-sit" for him, so Tama-kun wouldn't suffocate in the hot room. No, really, we're staying in Takato's room until he gets back. It's like a sleep over at Takato's...Except the role of Takato Matsuda is being played by a Chinese box turtle.
"...Takato needs to get a friend..." Hirokazu says, he's been having a staring contest with Tama-kun on Takato's table.
He's actually more than a little annoyed that the turtle is currently beating him with eight wins to Hirokazu's five. Hirokazu, you're having a staring contest with a creature that spends its whole life sitting there and staring forward...How can you possibly hope to stand a chance against-Wait, I forgot, you're a being that spends its whole life sitting there and staring at a television or video game. You and Tama-kun may just be evenly matched.
"He has a ton of friends," I say, looking up from my book as I sit on Takato's bed.
"He's obsessed with a turtle, he needs more friends," Hirokazu says.
I roll my eyes. The reason Takato asked both Hirokazu and I is that I'm here to make sure Hirokazu actually does his job and doesn't accidentally kill Tama-kun. He'd have asked Jen, too, but Jen's taking some cram school classes this summer and wouldn't have time. He said he'd stop by now and then to check in, he knows Takato would lose it if anything happened to his first real pet. The first time was our first night here, he helped us feed Tama-kun...
...Just like Takato, this turtle loves strawberries.
"Hirokazu, remember how excited you were when you got Guardromon?" I ask.
"Dude, you are not comparing Guardromon to this thing!" Hirokazu shouts, pointing at Tama-kun. To my surprise, the turtle actually retreats into his shell as if he understood what Hirokazu was saying...
...Actually, I think that turtle is smarter than it looks. And it's sort of attached to Jen, it walks up to him if he's out of his tank when Jen's over. Takato commented on it the day the two met. Tama-kun really likes Jen.
"Only in the sense that Takato finally got the pet he's been begging for his whole life, so let him enjoy himself." I shrug. If Takato's happy, I'm happy.
"Whatever. ...We've been here a few days, you know," Hirokazu crosses his arms, giving me a grin. ...Oh, great... "Ready to snoop around?"
"Hirokazu, Takato trusts us with his room-"
"-He obviously doesn't know me very well." Hirokazu replies.
"No, I'm sure he does, so anything he doesn't want us to see is probably well-hidden," I say. "And you wouldn't dare snoop around Takato's room with his turtle watching, would you?" Of course he would.
Hirokazu stands up, turns Tama-kun around and proceeds to go to Takato's dresser and starts digging. ...Yeah, Takato was obviously desperate when he asked Hirokazu to do this. Neither of us expect anything less from him.
I go back to my book, a pair of briefs lands on my head. "...Hirokazu..." I put my book down, giving him an annoyed look. Hirokazu has a chuckle, I put the underwear aside and stand up. "Just what are you even looking for?"
"I dunno, just something embarrassing like a journal or... ...Heeey...! I wonder..." A perverted smile spreads across Hirokazu's face as he goes to Takato's bed, gets on his knees and feels around under it. After a few seconds, he lifts up the mattress. "Damn!"
"Takato doesn't strike me as the kind of person to keep porn laying around, even if it was well-hidden," I say, I pick up Tama-kun and take him to his aquarium. It's filled with rabbit pellets for litter with a little plate for fruit and a dish of water buried about two-thirds into the litter.
"Yeah, but it's always the ones who turn bright red and stammer like an idiot when you say the word 'booby.'" Hirokazu replies.
I roll my eyes. "Then why is it my room and laptop are suspiciously porn free? I know you've looked!"
"Booby," Hirokazu says, turning to face me and awaiting a reaction.
I groan, "I'm look at a boob right now, but it's not an anatomical boob."
"A reaction like that tells me your browser has some hot stories involving lesbian porn," Hirokazu chuckles. Trust me, Hirokazu, it doesn't.
Hirokazu goes back to looking through Takato's dresser. ...I'd try harder to stop this, but I already apologized to Takato in advance when he told me I'd be helping Hirokazu watch Tama-kun. He told me he expected nothing less from Hirokazu Shiota and asked that I make sure Tama-kun is put away whenever Hirokazu is distracted in his search for a means of embarrassing Takato. That's how I know there's nothing for Hirokazu to find.
"Hirokazu, my browser wouldn't have anything to say that you would like hearing." ...For so many reasons.
"Suuure," Hirokazu laughs.
I go back to my book, which currently has a pair of Takato's underwear as a bookmark courtesy of Hirokazu. I roll my eyes and set them aside, I'll be sure to clean up later...
After about fifteen more minutes, Hirokazu loses interest and plays a digimon game on his laptop. I continue my Summer reading assignment...
There's a scratching noise coming from Tama-kun's aquarium. It's been going on for about ten minutes, I think. I didn't really notice it over the sound of Hirokazu typing at his game.
"Dude, what is that thing doing in there?" Hirokazu groans, turning to Tama-kun. "Seriously, how can something that boring make that much annoying noise?"
I get up, going to the letter Takato left by the aquarium. Hirokazu watches Tama-kun dig around his food dish as I read...
"Hold on, hold on..." I say, the turtle starts scratching even more. "Here it is... 'When Tama-kun starts digging in his litter near his food and water dish, it means he's hungry. If he's not near his food or water...He's burying,' um, 'something, please give him privacy.'" ...Takato's turtle is litter-box trained?
"Turtles do that?" Hirokazu asks.
I shrug, reaching into the tank for the food dish. "I'll go get him some of those chopped up strawberries Takato left for him. Wait here," I say, going out into the hall and downstairs to the kitchen. In the refrigerator is a plastic container with the word "TURTLE" written on the lid. I open it and take out some strawberries, put them on the plate and put the container away.
When I get back to Takato's room, I see Hirokazu lifting up Tama-kun's tank ever so sligtly. "What are you doing?"
"There's something under here," Hirokazu says. "The turtle dug to the bottom, it's clear. There's something under this thing. Hold it up for me."
"PLEASE," Hirokazu gives me an annoyed look. I set the strawberries on the dresser, I take Tama-kun out of the aquarium and hold him in one hand and lift the tank up with the other. Hirokazu pulls out...
...Oh, shit. Takato, you should have just taken that with you...
It's a book, with a drawing of Guilmon breathing fire and looking generally pissed off on the cover. Above him are the words "PROPERTY OF TAKATO MATSUDA - DO NOT TOUCH!" ...His journal, I'm guessing.
"Jack. Pot." Hirokazu chuckles. "Hey, Tama-kun, I owe you. You are hereby no longer boring!"
I set Tama-kun in his tank and put the plate in front of him, he starts eating. "How could you betray Takato like that?" I ask. Seriously, if this turtle knew what it just did...
Hirokazu sits at the small table in Takato's room, pulling out a chair for me. "Come on! It's show time!"
"...Hirokazu, this is...kinda low, even for you-"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever. This is more fun with two people!" Hirokazu says with a laugh. "Pleeeaaase?" He pouts, giving me his saddest, most pathetic-yet-malevolent look.
With a sigh, I sit down. "Just don't tell anyone what you read."
"This is between you, me, this journal and that turtle," Hirokazu motions to Tama-kun. "Thanks again, Tama-kun! You've saved me a boring couple of days!" ...I should have just told Hirokazu to stay home while I room-sit for Takato...
Hirokazu opens up to one of the more recent entries...
I found out what kind of turtle Tama-kun is. He's a Zhou's Box Turtle, it's a species from China. I think it's official: Everything I love comes from China.
One of my favorite foods, manju, comes from China, my favorite non-Digimon game series is based on a Chinese novel and now, my new best friend: Tama-kun.
Of course, the thing I love most from China is still Jen-kun. Tama-kun's a distant second but that doesn't mean I don't like Tama-kun!
...The thing he loves the most...?
Hirokazu and I exchange looks and then shrug it off. He probably didn't mean that literally...
...Though, I'm amazed Hirokazu isn't making the obvious joke that comes from Takato listing Tama-kun as a distant second to Jen. Especially since we know how obsessed he is with this turtle.
Hirokazu flips through some more pages.
Jen's going to cram school this summer, he told me today. I know school is important to him, but I was really hoping to spend a lot of time with him during break. I'm going to miss him a lot even though it's only three days a week.
He really likes Tama-kun, I think. And Tama-kun really likes Jen, he was crawling up to him a lot the last time he was here. I think Tama-kun and I think alike, we both love Jen.
Tama-kun kept moving over to Jen to where Jen picked him up, laid on the floor and let Tama-kun sit on his chest and stomach while we talked with a hand on his shell. I wish I was that turtle.
Tama-kun's lucky, he gets to show how much he likes Jen a lot more than I can. I'm used to keeping it a secret from Jen and the others at this point. But, I think it says a lot about how much I like Jen if I'm jealous of how much attention Tama-kun gets from him.
"...Kenta, did you...read that last line yet?" Hirokazu can't turn his eyes away from the journal.
"...Yes, yes I did..." ...Takato loves Jen...?
"...Wow. Um...Takato's...gay..." Hirokazu looks to me. "H-How do you feel about this...?" He's...asking me?
...I think Jen's damned lucky. "...You first."
"Um, w-well...He's Takato, this is more of a shock than I think it should be," Hirokazu shrugs.
"What do you mean?" I give Hirokazu a confused look.
"Dude, Takato's...just Takato, you know?" Hirokazu shrugs. "Like how Ruki jokes about you and me, except just him."
I groan. "Hirokazu, just because Takato's emotional and sensitive doesn't mean- ...Well, okay in this case he's gay, but...That's not a part of...Oh, screw it! Takato's a really bad anti-stereotypical example!" I am, too, but...Takato's actually worse. "...Should we pretend we never...read this...?"
"I don't think it's possible," Hirokazu shrugs. "Once you know someone's gay, it's hard to forget. Not that I have a problem but it's like...We know he's not into the girls we're checking out with him, you know?"
"To be fair, we knew that before we knew this," I say. I should have suspected this just from how often Takato tries to get out of checking out girls with Hirokazu (not that I blame him).
"Yeah, but now we know why," Hirokazu shrugs. He goes back to the journal and reads another page.
"You're...still reading it?" I ask.
"Yeah, I mean, we just started and we got something this juicy!" Hirokazu grins. "Come on! Read with me!"
I shouldn't, I really shouldn't have looked at this much but...I am a little curious. Mostly, I want to know if he likes anyone other than Jen...
Hirokazu and I sort of spent most of the evening and night reading Takato's journal.
...I feel really guilty about reading it, especially now that I look back. But, given that we know he's gay now...I wanted to know if he liked anyone other than Jen so badly...
...He doesn't. I...guess that's what I get for reading his journal. Even Hirokazu's noticed I'm a little down and he's usually oblivious to that kind of thing.
We're eating breakfast at the table, Tama-kun's sitting between us, eating strawberries. Breakfast for us is some Guilmon bread and custard filled breads Takato's parents left for us. "...Kenta, dude, you're...barely eating and you've been quiet since we finished the journal last night. What's wrong?"
"...Nothing." I say, quietly.
"Dude, it's...not because Takato's gay is it?"
I shake my head. "No, Hirokazu, trust me, I would never have a problem if a friend of mine was gay." ...I have a little problem with the fact he likes Jen.
"...Hey, um, can I ask you something and you promise not to get pissed?" Hirokazu glances away before taking a bite out of his bread.
"Shoot." I say with a healfhearted shrug.
Hirokazu swallows, asking, "Are you gay?"
"Wh-What?" I look up to Hirokazu, my eyes wide.
"Are you gay?" He repeats. He's giving me a completely serious, almost worried expression...Worried about me, not about a 'yes.'
"...What...makes you think I am?" I ask, avoiding the 'yes' I'm sure he expects me to say.
"Well, um, you're...You're just kinda...Gay. N-Not like it's a bad thing, just...Um, I'd be less surprised if I found out you were gay than I was when I found out Takato was gay."
I take a deep breath. "Yes, Hirokazu. I'm gay." Words I never thought I'd say.
Hirokazu nods. "I've sort of suspected it for a while, but...Um, is it because Takato likes Jen and not you? Is that why you're kinda down all of a sudden?"
I nod. "I deserve it for looking through his journal, I can't believe I went along with that..." I really can't, if it were me I'd be pissed. Of course, being Hirokazu's friend is exactly why I don't keep a journal to begin with.
"Dude, karma's not that specific or works that quickly," Hirokazu shakes his head. "And besides, reading his journal told you there's a chance..."
"He likes Jen," I say. "A lot." It's true, every other entry had something about Jen in it. And every entry since he got his turtle also had 'the cute thing Tama-kun did today' (no really! He actually added a little section at the bottom of the page with that exact title for more than a few entries), and those entries often had something to do with Tama-kun being with Jen. Jen thinks Tama-kun is cool, according to a lot of the entries. Not surprising that Jen would be happy Takato got a pet...Jen and Takato are best friends, after all.
"Yeah, but...Jen's not gay, is he?" Hirokazu says with a shrug.
"I dunno, Jen never talks about that kinda thing," As I say that, it hits me that I don't either...Score one point for 'Jen might be gay.' Also, the universe hates me so score another nine-hundred-ninety-nine-thousand-nine-hundred-ninety-nine points for 'Jen might be gay,' too.
"Yeah, but...Look, um, if we found out if Jen wasn't gay..." Hirokazu trails off. "Takato already says he's 'knows' Jen won't like him back, so...Come out to Jen, Jen says he's straight, word spreads to Takato..."
"...No," I shake my head. "I'll come out to Jen, but not in some underhanded way to get with Takato." I'd never do that to Takato. Especially now with how guilty I feel about reading his journal...I want Jen to like him back.
"Then...why come out to Jen?"
"To see if he's gay or at least wouldn't care," I say. "And if Jen likes Takato, you tell him what you read and I 'didn't.'" I...I really don't want Takato or anyone else to know I actually went along with that. I'm really ashamed of myself for it. I'm even having trouble looking Tama-kun in the eye, and he's the one who found the journal!
"Deal," Hirokazu grins. "He's coming by later, right?"
I nod. "Yeah, he said he'd call first. I'll figure out some way to bring it up and...We'll see what happens."
"What if Jen likes you?" Hirokazu says with a smirk. ...Good question, but I seriously doubt that would ever happen.
"I'd know I'm dreaming," I reply, Hirokazu laughs. I look down to Tama-kun, he's looking up at me with a huge chunk of strawberry in his mouth. "Wish me luck, it'll make your owner very happy if Jen likes him back."
Tama-kun bobs his head a little before going back to eating... ...He...
No...No way... ...Did...that...
...Did that turtle just nod?
Hirokazu and I exchange looks and go back to eating. I have a little bit more of an appetite since I'll be trying to make up for reading Takato's journal...I just need to figure out a way to bring it up...
After we eat, I put Tama-kun back in his tank and do some Summer homework. My cell phone goes off after a few minutes. "Jen?"
"Hey, Kenta, I'm outside the front door. How's Tama-kun?"
"Fine, he ate a crapload of strawberries for breakfast," I say. "Wait there, I'll go let you in." I get up and get the key next to Tama-kun's tank. "Jen's out front, I'm going to let him in...This is it."
Hirokazu nods. "How do we...?"
"Just...let me do it, okay?"
"Right, you're the expert!" Hirokazu nods. ...I'm the...expert?
...Well, I guess he has a point...
I go downstairs and unlock the door into the bakery. Jen's waiting outside. "Sorry I didn't give you too much notice, cram school was cancelled today so I thought I'd just come by."
I nod. "Don't worry, we were getting lonely. Tama-kun, too."
Jen laughs. "That turtle really likes me for some reason. Takato puts him on the table and he crawls over to me a lot. Only time he stays still is if I let him sit on my stomach." Probably picks up on Takato's feelings...
...Wait, I think that's more of a dog and cat thing. Are turtles that smart? ...This one might be.
"Ask Hirokazu how well he does in a staring contest," I joke, locking the door behind Jen. I follow him up to Takato's room.
Hirokazu's on the phone when we get there.
"...Dude, really, we're taking good care of him-...Takato, it's a turtle. Is there really that much of a difference between one that's alive and one that's dead?" Hirokazu rolls his eyes. "...He's still alive, I swear! I am not that bad with pets! And I have Kenta here!" Takato's checking in, it seems. "...Hold on, Kenta just got here." He passes me his cell phone.
"Hey, Takato," I say into the cell.
"Hi, Kenta-kun. Sorry if it's too early, I just wanted to check on you guys and Tama-kun," Takato says. "How is he?"
I go to the tank, checking on Tama-kun. "He's fine, Takato. He ate breakfast with us not too long ago, the strawberries you left him with some lettuce."
"Thanks again for watching him, Kenta-kun... ...Um..." There's a short silence.
"...You want me to put the phone up to his ear, don't you?" I ask.
Oh, what the hell? "Hold on." I put the phone up to Tama-kun. "It's for you."
"You've got to be kidding!" Hirokazu shouts, I'm sure Takato heard him. Jen's trying not to laugh as well.
I can sort of hear what Takato's saying, in and out at least. "Hey, Tama-kun! How...you...? I'll be back...few days. Be good!"
After another moment I put the phone back up to my ear. "He misses you," I say. Okay, maybe Takato is a little too attached to this turtle...He needs a boyfriend. Preferably Jen... ...As much as...I wish he liked me instead.
I'd rather Takato be happy, though.
Takato laughs. "Thanks again, Kenta, we'll be back in a few days. Give Tama-kun a hug for me." ...At least he didn't say 'kiss.'
"Will do," I say. "How's the resort?"
"A ton of fun. I wish I brought Tama-kun, it's called 'The Stone Turtle Hot Spring,' they have this huge statue of a turtle outside of the springs!" ...Huh, you'd think a place like that would welcome someone's pet turtle.
"Cool. Have a dip in the hot springs for me."
"I was just about to. See you, Kenta-kun. Thanks again and make sure Hirokazu doesn't...y'know..." He trails off.
"I'll make sure Hirokazu doesn't do anything too stupid around Tama-kun." I say.
"HEY! KENTA! THINK THIS THING'D MAKE A GOOD HOCKEY PUCK?" Hirokazu shouts, probably in response to what I just said.
"K-Kenta...Did he...just say...?" Takato...is actually worried that Hirokazu is serious!
"He's joking, Takato, really!" I laugh. "See you later."
"S-See ya, Kenta-kun..." Takato nervously hangs up.
I hit 'end call' and pass Hirokazu his phone, laughing, "Takato wanted to check on his turtle..."
"Dude, did he really ask you to put the phone up to the turtle so he could say 'hi' to it?" Hirokazu asks.
"No, but I think he wanted to," I say.
"Takato's happy, Hirokazu," Jen laughs. He goes to Tama-kun's tank and waves. "Hey, Tama-kun. Nihao ma?" He reaches his hand into the tank.
The turtle actually perks up a little and walks to Jen's hand, Jen strokes his chin with one finger... Weird...I really wonder if Tama-kun is picking up on Takato's feelings or something. Takato loves Jen ergo Tama-kun loves him, too.
Jen picks up Tama-kun and puts him on the table, Hirokazu and I sit next to him. "So any trouble?"
"Just how boring this thing is," Hirokazu says. "I mean, seriously, if Takato was like this over a turtle, I'm afraid of what'd happen if he got a puppy or a cat!"
I laugh. "...I think it's cute," I say.
"The turtle?" Jen asks.
...Here goes. "No, the way Takato is obsessed with this turtle."
"...You...think that's...cute?" Jen gives me an odd look. ...Yeah, I'm just going to gay it up a bit and see what Jen says and does. ...And it is kinda cute (but also scary) the way Takato would do everything short of taking a bullet for this turtle-Actually, no, I think he would actually take the bullet...
...And that's the distant second to Jen! Jen, you are so lucky.
Hirokazu laughs, "Yeah, Takato and his Turtle..Sooo cute!" He clasps his hands together, looking down at Tama-kun. "Aren't you an adorable little paperweight? Who's so cute? Who's the cutest wittle paperweight? You are! You are!"
Jen and I can't help but laugh, Tama-kun crawls over to Jen. Jen picks him up and holds him in his lap with both hands on his shell.
"I dunno, I just...really like how happy Takato is. He's always wanted a pet and...I like seeing him happy," I say.
"Yeah, me, too," Jen nods. "Takato hasn't been this happy since Guilmon, I think. Not that I'd call this a replacement Guilmon..."
"Yeah, but if he asked us to put the phone to Guilmon, he wouldn't sound nearly as insane..." Hirokazu rolls his eyes.
"Again, Takato's happy...I love that smile he has whenever we talk about Tama-kun," I say.
"...His...smile...?" Jen again, gives me an odd look.
"Something...wrong, Jen?" I ask.
"Um... ...No, it's just..." Jen shakes his head. "Nothing." ...I admit, this is actually kinda fun. He shakes his head and looks down to Tama-kun, smiling.
"Like that," I say.
"What?" Jen looks to me again, I see Hirokazu trying to hold back a laugh. I think he knows where this is going.
"That smile you have, it's like the cute one Takato has," I say. "You have a cute smile, Jen."
"...Okay, how much is Hirokazu paying you to do this?" Jen says with a laugh.
"Nothing," I say, smiling at Jen. I'm trying to go for 'in love,' but...I don't know how well I pull it off.
"...Okay, how much is Ruki paying you?"
"No-one's paying me, Jen," I say. "...I've decided to stop hiding it. I'm gay!"
Jen looks to Hirokazu. "So, what bet did Kenta lose...?"
"...You don't believe him?" Hirokazu asks.
"...Not so much that I don't believe him, I've...sort of known for a while, but...Kenta's not flaming like this," Jen says. ...He's known for a while?
"How...did you know...?" I ask.
"Ruki told me," Jen shrugs. "She says she saw you, um, checking out Takato's ass. On multiple occasions." ...Oh...
"...I-I see..." I look away. "Great...So, um, it's not an issue for you, obviously..." I look, Jen shakes his head. "Jen, I love you." I blurt out, quickly turning to Jen.
"I love you, Jen. Can we be together? If not, does your heart belong to someone else...? Who is she? ...Or he? ...Tell me who he is!" I'm...a little desperate for answers here.
"...Kenta, um... ...What's going on?" Jen asks. "I-I mean...Really, you're... ...Again, I want to know who's paying you or what kind of bet you lost."
"...Dude, I think you should just tell him," Hirokazu says. "He says he's at least known about you."
"...Tell me...what?" Jen asks.
I sigh, "Okay, Jen, I'm giving you a hypothetical...I actually did love you. A lot. I loved you more than anything else in the world." I'm basing that on the fact Tama-kun is a distant second to Jen in Takato's book. "Would you be upset? ...Would you avoid me?"
"...I-I...I'd..." Jen stammers, looking away. "...Takato, right?" He says with a sigh.
"Kenta, I-I...I sort of suspected it," Jen says, shaking his head. "Trust me, I wouldn't be upset with Takato. Ever. "
"What? Did Ruki tell you Takato looked at your ass or something?" Hirokazu asks.
"Yes, but I suspected it before then...Or at least that Takato might have been gay." Jen says, letting out a quiet sigh. "So, it's...true." He picks up Tama-kun and sets him back on the table. "...Tama-kun, your owner loves me. Did you know that...?" He asks, leaning forward and resting his head on his hands on the table.
"Probably did," Hirokazu says.
"That would make sense," Jen says, quietly.
Jen's...taking this a little differently than I expected him to. I...don't know what his reaction is, exactly.
"Jen, look, um..." I sigh. "...Hirokazu, could you...leave us alone for a bit? I...I need to talk to Jen about...something," I say.
Hirokazu, normally, would fight me to be able to watch something like this...But, I think it shows how much he actually does care about Takato, for him to just nod, grab his laptop and leave the room. "I'll be downstairs in the dining room...Tell me when I can come back. Um...Good luck, I guess." He says as he goes to the door. He closes the door behind him.
"...Jen, I like Takato. A lot," I say.
"Yeah, I...sort of figured that," Jen says, he sits up. Tama-kun puts his legs into his shell and looks up at Jen.
Jen's face turns red again. "...If you like Takato so much, Kenta, are you sure you want to know the answer to that?"
"If Takato wanted to be with me instead and you liked him the way I do, would you want him to be with me or you?" I ask.
Jen gets what I'm saying, he nods slowly and...Sadly. "...I do. I'm sorry, Kenta-kun."
"Don't, trust me...I...I'd rather Takato was happy than with me," I say. ...Universe, what did I ever do to you? And don't say 'exist!'
"How did you...find out for sure?" Jen asks. "I never told him, just in case I was wrong and it would bother him. Or, at least, make things really weird for us if he didn't like me back."
"How else? Hirokazu found Takato's journal," I say.
"...Oh," Jen rolls his eyes. "Figures. So he wrote an entry about how much he likes me or something?"
"He wrote dozens of entries about how much he likes you and how Tama-kun is a distant second to you on his 'things I love that come from China' list," I say.
Jen laughs. "D-Distant...? ...Wow...I'm honored." He smiles a little and strokes Tama-kun's shell.
"So, when he gets back...Kiss him once for me, okay?" I look away, I feel a few tears welling in my eyes. Damn it...I-I was so close...
...I've had a thing for Takato since about a year after The Digital World. Actually, it might've even started during The Digital World. I just know that...Takato was awesome, I really, really liked him. When I figured out exactly how much, I...I wasn't sure what to do or...How I should handle it. And...All this time, I've been afraid to tell him because I was so afraid of losing his friendship...
...And he's gay. Like me. But, he loves Jen. ...Maybe if I told him as soon as I realized it, he might have been with me, thinking Jen would never like him back... ...Instead, I kept it a secret. And, now, I find out that Takato likes Jen...
...And Jen likes Takato.
I'm trying to figure out a subtle way to wipe my eyes when I feel two arms wrap around me from behind. "...Jen...?"
"...Thank you for telling me this, Kenta. I'm really sorry..."
"D-Don't be, really...Just be happy with Takato, okay?" I try to keep my voice from cracking. "I'll be fine...I'm just upset about waiting for so long. That's all."
"I...I hope you find someone, Kenta-kun...I really do." Jen says, letting me go.
"...When did you start to like him?" I ask.
"It's been a long time, I just sort of gradually realized that Takato had become more than a best friend to me. It really scared me at first, I had no idea I was gay before then. But, being with Takato let me forget about that, I wasn't so worried, I was happy. I'm still a little...apprehensive about it, lets say, I wouldn't want to tell anyone but..." He shrugs.
I nod. "I wasn't so much scared of being gay as I was afraid of everyone else finding out. A-And since this morning...Hirokazu knows, now you...And apparently Ruki's always known."
"She's Ruki," Jen shrugs. He looks to Tama-kun, the turtle's gone to sleep. He picks him up gently and puts him in his tank. "If...I can do anything to help make this up to you-"
"Jen, no, you're...You don't need to do anything, really. I-I'll...I'll get over it. I just...wish I told him sooner or something. Please, Jen, confess as soon as he gets back. Just...don't tell him what Hirokazu did."
"I-I won't, I feel bad just from asking you what was in there," Jen says. "Don't...tell me any more, okay?"
I nod. "I feel bad, too, I just...hoped he'd write about liking me, too." I shrug, getting up. "I'll let Hirokazu know he can come back." I say, going to the door...
...Congratulations, Takato. If you're happy, I'm happy...
Jen, Hirokazu and I talked about how Jen would tell Takato how he felt. Hirokazu is sworn to secrecy until Takato and Jen are ready to tell other people. He's taking it really seriously, I'm surprised by that. Mostly how seriously he's taking it.
...I'm feeling a little better. I'm on the floor of Takato's room with my head on a pair of pillows and Tama-kun on my chest. I'm stroking his shell.
After Jen left, Hirokazu gave me a little bit of space. I needed it, actually...I thought I could handle this a little better, but... ...The back of my mind kept saying 'Jen's not gay. Just make sure he's straight and Takato's yours!' ...Nope, Jen's gay, too...
I didn't cry...in front of Hirokazu and Jen. I "went to the bathroom" at one point and...I let it out a little bit then. I-I...I'm so mad at myself for not telling Takato.
I look up to Tama-kun, he's staring at me...I think he knows I'm upset. I guess turtles are that smart...
I stare off into turtle-space until I hear the sound of someone laying down next to me. "...Hey, Kenta...Feeling better?"
"...Yeah," I nod, already feeling tears start to well up in my eyes again.
"Look, um...You did something really big for Takato, you know? He's...going to be really happy after Jen confesses to him... ...And...Well... Can you sit up a second?"
I nod. "One sec..." I get up with Tama-kun in one hand and and put him in his tank. I go back and sit down next to Hirokazu. "...What is it?"
"...Okay, um... Look, I-I...I..." Hirokazu stammers. A lot. His face turns bright red. ...Hirokazu...? "I-I...Damn it... ...I-I...I'm not even close to being ready to say this, but... ...Damn it...I-I...I..."
"Look, um, you know how yesterday...I was looking for...Takato's, um, 'magazines' or things like that?" He asks. I nod, slowly. "Let's...just say if we...found one...I'd have been half-interested..."
"...Half...interested...?" ...H-Hirokazu...Are you...telling me...you're...?
Hirokazu looks away. "Y-Yeah...Half interested... ...Like, as in...I like both halves of the population. ...You know what I mean?"
"...Hirokazu...Are you...just saying this to make me feel better or...are you serious?" I ask.
"I kinda...might...like you, Kenta," Hirokazu says. "I-I'm sorry you didn't get Takato and all, I-I would have helped you if Jen wasn't gay...But..." He looks away, his face is bright red and he's shaking. "...Wanna...give it a try...?"
I stare at Hirokazu in shock...He's...bi...? And he likes me-Okay, that...shouldn't be that much of a shock. And I'm not saying that for the reasons Hirokazu would, I'm saying it because Ruki always jokes about it!
Finally, while he's not looking, I wrap both arms around him. "Thank you, Hirokazu."
Hirokazu hesitates a bit before wrapping his arms around me. "...I...kinda love you, Kenta."
I laugh. Hirokazu's...obviously not really ready to be with someone, so...I really thank him for this. "I kinda love you, too."
I hear the sound of Tama-kun scratching at his litter. "...He must be hungry." Hirokazu says, looking up.
"...No, he's...on the other side of his tank from the food dish... That means he's..."
Hirokazu groans, "Way to ruin the mood, Turtle!"
I can imagine Tama-kun's thoughts right now are probably 'serves you right for calling me a paperweight.'
Jen confessed to Takato the day after he got back from the resort. He made sure to do it in front of Tama-kun, too. I sort of suggested that, since Tama-kun played matchmaker by showing Hirokazu where Takato's journal was...
...Takato's never been happier. He has Jen and Tama-kun, his top two favorite beings of Chinese origin.
Things with Hirokazu are actually working out...Well, it's sort of like nothing's changed beyond the fact Hirokazu's...really physical. By which I mean making out, not...That. I don't mind it at all, actually.
We double dated with Jen and Takato a couple times. The firt time was at a restaurant Jen picked out for Takato: The Sleeping Tortoise. It was a really nice tea house...And they had a tank full of box turtles, one even looked a little like Tama-kun. Takato joked he wanted to bring Tama-kun the next time we went, so he could make friends...
...Speaking of turtle friends...
"...Kenta-chan, why? Just...Why?" I hear Hirokazu groan. Hirokazu, I know, you don't think you're ready to be a father yet, but...
...I so wanted a baby!
"Takato inspired me and...Well, it was two-for-one," I say. "And I had a spare tank, so..."
"...I-I...I don't know..."
"You'll make a great father," I joke.
Hirokazu stares at the box turtle in a tank in front of him on his dresser. I surprised him with a pet turtle for our first month anniversary. I have one, too, in my room. The pet store was having a sale and I think turtles are good luck now. After what happened to Takato and Jen, especially.
"Just...don't do anything insane like Takato, okay?" Hirokazu says.
"We already set up a play date for Tama-kun and Jin," I say.
"Jin? That's what you named your turtle?" Hirokazu asks.
I nod. "What'll you name yours?"
Hirokazu stares down at his turtle, scratching his chin. "...I got it! The perfect name for a turtle!"
"What is it?"
...Why am I surprised?
This actually two different fics combined into one. One was a comedy about Takato getting a pet turtle (since it's one of the few pets I could imagine as bakery-friendly), but...There's not much to go on with that premise alone...
...So, I had another fic about Hirokazu and Kenta reading Takato's journal and finding out about his thing for Jen and Kenta trying to set them up, partially out of guilt, even though he liked Takato. But, again...It didn't feel like enough...
...So, I thought, "What the hell?" And combined the two into this. I hope it worked out! And the reason for the Hirokenta: I wanted Kenta to be a little happy at the end of this. ...Sorry, Kenta.
I would also like to add this: Turtles are awesome! And, yes, Takato's turtle is named after the turtle (and my favorite character) from Love Hina: Tama-chan! Myu~!
I'm so happy for Takato and Jen (and Tama-kun), but I felt so bad for Kenta! I'm glad you paired him with Hirokazu, Ori, I really am!
I have to say Tama-kun was sort of adorable, especially for a turtle. I did get a bit of a chill when Hirokazu asked if he would "make a good hockey puck," even though I knew he was joking. It is simply too easy to imagine Hirokazu saying that in a hockey jersey and mask with a stick in hand as that poor turtle ducks into its shell!
Ha ha ha, but of course Ori would never allow that to happen to a turtle in his works. He's a huge fan of "nature's paperweight."
On a final note: Someone (I won't give names for privacy's sake) sent us a PM recently, I've tried to respond but FFN gives me a message that your PMs are disabled. I sent Ori an email after I got this fic and asked him to contact you via your DeviantArt profile if I still can't get through in the next couple days.