Kokoro No Kikkou
Takato and Tama-kun: Confessions

Almost home, almost home, almost home...I miss him so much! Not that I didn't like the trip, it was great! I spent a lot of time in the hot springs and baths, I definitely had a great time! But..

...I miss Tama-kun. And I think he misses me, too. Kenta says the past couple days he hasn't been eating as much. Kenta thinks it's because Tama-kun is worried that I'm not coming back. Now I need to see him!

Our car pulls into the alley and parks behind the bakery, I see Hirokazu, Kenta and Jen waving to us from the balcony into my room. I wave back.. I'm really glad they kept an eye on Tama-kun for me, I wouldn't have been able to sleep if I knew he'd be alone in my room in the Summer heat. It just gets too hot in there without the door open, I tried it for one day and I was worried it was making Tama-kun sick before noon.

I know, I'm...a little "focused" on Tama-kun right now, but...He's my first real pet and I think he's great! He doesn't make a lot of noise or mess, he's always there when I need a friend and he's got a friendly personality! Or, well, I think he does, at least...Hirokazu responded to that statement before with "paperweights have personality?" ...He doesn't see what's so special about Tama-kun (I told Kenta to let Hirokazu borrow his glasses so he could see how great of a pet Tama-kun is).

As soon as we stop I undo my seatbelt, get out of the car and go to the back for my suitcase.

"You...really miss the turtle that much?" My Dad asks as I start past the driver's side door.

I nod. "Thanks again for him!" I really can't thank my parents enough!

I hear my Dad saying, "If I knew he'd be this excited over a turtle..." to my Mom. Yeah, I...never had a pet until, well, three months ago. Guilmon, of course, doesn't count (he's my partner!), though I sort of treated him like a dog at first. But in my defense: There's no "Beginner's Guide To Digimon Taming" out there, I didn't know what I was supposed to do!

My parents, when they gave him to me, started by saying "We know it's not the best pet, but we have health codes we have to live with..." They were so wrong about him not being 'the best pet.' He really likes me, he makes a ton of noise in his tank when he wants my attention (or Jen's).

Tama-kun will sit near me and watch me do my homework or sit in my lap while I watch television. I think he actually does pay attention to the television sometimes, or at least finds the movement interesting. I heard from someone at the pet store that bearded dragons (this type of lizard they had on sale) actually watch television, too. I took that to mean that Tama-kun can do the same (turtles are smarter than they look, no matter what Hirokazu thinks!).

The back door is unlocked, I asked Kenta and Hirokazu to unlock it when I called them as we got back into Shinjuku. I run through the hall, kick my shoes off at the bottom of the stairs and hurry up to my room with my suitcase. My door's open, Jen, Hirokazu and Kenta are standing outside of my room, smiling.

"I'm amazed it took you this long to get up here," Kenta says, rolling his eyes. "A whole twenty-seven seconds, Takato...Tama-kun's so disappointed in how slow you are." He says with a laugh.

"Turtles have no right to bitch about how slow someone is," Hirokazu speaks up.

"Hirokazu..." I laugh. "Is he doing any better? I was really worried when you told me about him eating less."

"He eats more when Jen's around," Kenta says, "so I think it was definitely because he misses you."

Jen nods. "He's seen you everyday since you got him, then disappear for over a week...Tama-kun was worried you vanished."

"Then I need to show him I'm back," I say with a grin, I take my suitcase into my room and set it by my bed. I go over to Tama-kun's tank, he's resting by his food. As soon as I approach, he pokes his head out of his shell. I pick him up, he lets his legs out of his shell and starts crawling in mid-air, moving his legs really fast. "Miss me, Tama-kun?"

Hirokazu speaks in a squeaky voice, "Takato, I missed you so much! Do you have any papers you want me to weigh down for you? That'd be so much fun! Please, please, please let me sleep on your homework!"

"Hirokazu, look at how fast that thing's running in mid-air right now," Kenta says. "That is not a paperweight with legs!"

"Just wait 'til it calms down," Hirokazu says.

I laugh, going to my bed and sitting down. I set Tama-kun in my lap and he calms down. "Thank you guys so much for watching him. Anything I can do to thank you, just ask." I say. "Oh, and did you like the bread we left you?"

"Hell yeah, a week of Matsuda Bakery breads is a vacation!" Hirokazu grins.

"Someone managed to make us go through those cinnamon rolls in about two days, thanks for the extra trays of dough in the fridge. We made them as soon as we were out." Kenta laughs.

"Anything for Tama-kun's petsitters," I say, picking up Tama-kun. "I missed you a lot, you know that?"

Tama-kun opens his mouth and closes it, 'running' in mid-air a little bit until I set him back on my lap. I catch a glimpse of Hirokazu giving Jen and Kenta a sort of 'he's insane' look...Hirokazu-kun, I like my pet turtle...

...And, even I'll admit this sounds weird but Tama-kun and I sort of understand each other. Or, he understands me because he's really attached to Jen. The first day he met Jen, Tama-kun charged for the edge of the table (as fast as a turtle can "charge," at last). Jen stopped him before he came close to the edge but...Most of the time, with Jen around, Tama-kun won't sit still unless he's allowed to sit in Jen's lap or on his stomach and chest if he's laying down. He even crawls onto the sides of his tank and makes a ton of noise to let us know, he wants to see Jen.

...He shows as much affection for Jen as I wish I could at times. Well, not sit in Jen's lap or anything like that but, well, it's obvious how much Tama-kun likes Jen. And Jen thinks it's "cute" the way my turtle likes him so much... ...If he knew Tama-kun's owner liked-No, loved Jen that much...

...I don't think it would end well for any of us. Especially me...

"We'll leave you and your turtle to catch up," Hirokazu says. He goes to my closet and gets a travel bag and a taped up black garbage bag (both Kenta's and his luggage for the pet-sitting trip, respectively).

"Takato, um, tomorrow..." Jen begins. "Mind if I come over around noon? I want to talk to you and Tama-kun."

"...Dude, don't say 'and Tama-kun,'" Hirokazu says. "I don't wanna send two of my friends to the nut house!"

"Last night, Takato, Tama-kun told me how much he missed you," Kenta says with a grin. "He just went on and on about how much he loves you and missed you so much!"

Hirokazu nods. "Thanks, Kenta, that reminds me..." He turns back to me. "Takato, remember this always: Turtles. Don't. Talk."

Jokingly, I lift Tama-kun up and put him to my ear. "...Tama-kun says otherwise." I reply. "And, sure, Jen. Come by anytime. Tama-kun says he'll be happy to see you again, too." I put Tama-kun back in my lap.

Kenta and Jen laugh, Hirokazu holds back a slightly annoyed chuckle and follows Kenta out of my room.

"See you tomorrow," Jen smiles. "I want to make sure Tama-kun's eating again, too."

"Thanks again," I say as Jen leaves after Hirokazu and Kenta.

I wonder what he wants to talk to me about...

After they leave the bakery, I put Tama-kun away and unpack. Tama-kun watches me from the tank, he does that a lot when I'm doing things. He sits with his legs in his shell and his head moves around as he watches me. I didn't know turtles could be so active or as 'observant' as he is.

After I unpack, I do some summer homework until it's dinner time. I bring my food up to my room with a plate of lettuce for Tama-kun. I eat at my table with Tama-kun in the middle...He's eating like he usually does, Kenta was right, I'm sort of touched by how much he missed me.

After I eat, I go to Tama-kun's tank...

...Yep, right where I left it. I knew Hirokazu wouldn't think to look under here. I didn't want to take it with me in case I lost it: My journal.

I write a new entry as Tama-kun eats...

Just got back home from the hot springs, Tama-kun really missed me. Jen was with Hirokazu and Kenta when I got home, I was surprised to see him. I'm glad he helped them watch Tama-kun, Jen really likes him.

Jen wants to talk to me about something tomorrow, too. I don't know what. It's probably not important, or else he'd have told me today. Either that or he wants to let me unpack and rest a little before. It was a long drive home.

The springs were great, I really liked the turtle statue they had in front of them! It didn't look much like Tama-kun, but I liked seeing it. It reminded me of the turtle I had waiting for me at home.

Tama-kun gave me a whole new appreciation for turtles, especially him. He's eating right now as I write. I like the way we both love strawberries. I might have some for dessert, actually. That sounds good.

The cute thing Tama-kun did today:

When I got home and picked him up, he was so excited to see me he was running in mid-air. This turtle is so cute!

It's a little after noon, Jen called and said he was on his way. He also asked how Tama-kun was doing. I told him he was eating again and how he and I split some strawberries for dessert. Mine had whipped cream, his didn't.

"Takato! Jenrya's here!" My Mom calls from downstairs.

"Thanks! Tell him I'm in my room!" I call back, going to the door frame. I go to check on Tama-kun, he's got his legs in his shell while he watches me. "Jen's here, Tama-kun...Happy?" I laugh. I do wonder if he can at least learn names, I know he at least recognizes my voice.

Jen knocks on the open door. "Hey, Takato-kun."

"Jen-kun," I turn and smile. Tama-kun perks up, he's already starting to the side of his tank. Jen laughs as he sees how excited he is.

"Can I close the door? For what I want to talk about..." Jen trails off. I nod, he closes the door.

"Have a seat," I say, motioning to my table.

"Mind if you bring out Tama-kun? I think he wants to say hi," Jen laughs as he sits down. Tama-kun is making noise against the side of his tank with his shell.

"Okay, okay, settle down, Tama-kun..." I laugh, picking up Tama-kun. I set him at my table in front of Jen. He calms down, putting his legs into his shell and lets Jen rub his chin with one finger.

"Any idea why this turtle likes me so much?" Jen asks.

I shrug, sitting down next to Jen. "I dunno. Maybe you're good with turtles..."

"I don't think so, the last friend of mine who had a turtle had a turtle that liked to bite me," Jen shakes his head. "You wouldn't bite me, would you?" He asks Tama-kun. Tama-kun extends his head out a little more for Jen. "I'll take that as a 'no.'" Jen looks to me. "I...have kind of a theory."

"What's that?"

"Well, Kenta brought it up when we talked about it, mostly as a joke, but...Pets sort of pick up on their owners' feelings and things like that..."

"Oh, so it's because we're best friends?" I say. That's been my theory, except it's not because we're best friends... ...It's a lot more than that. On my side, at least. I should be careful with how this goes...

Tama-kun gets up and starts toward Jen. I pick him up and put him further from the edge as he gets close...I get a little worried about how enthusiastic he can be about seeing Jen. He doesn't seem to want to stop when he gets close to the edge of the table, sometimes. I don't want to risk a test to see if he does know to stop.

Jen shakes his head. "Sort of, but...Well, Tama-kun likes Kenta and Hirokazu, but not as much as he likes me. Can't blame him not liking Hirokazu, the one who calls him a paperweight but...Kenta really likes Tama-kun and Tama-kun doesn't act nearly as excited as when I'm around..." ...J-Jen...Don't...tell me you...suspect...

...W-Well, if he says anything, he's...joking! I mean...He wouldn't...

"Well, like I said, you're my best friend. So, Tama-kun likes my best friend the most..." I trail off. ...Am I being outted by a turtle?

Speaking of said turtle, Tama-kun starts another charge at Jen. Jen catches him this time and passes him to me. I gently take him.

"Well, that's...the thing..." Jen clears his throat, looking away. "If I got a pet turtle...How do you think it would act around you?"

"All turtles are different, but...Um...If it's like Tama-kun, I guess...The same?" I-I'm...really worried about where Jen might go with this...

R-Really, Jen, I had no control over this! I-I was scared out of my mind when I realized I liked you, as in...A lot more than a best friend! Please, please don't tell me you...figured it out... ...Because of Tama-kun...

"If it was like Tama-kun, yeah...The turtle would know how much I like you. I...wonder if it could be more affectionate, maybe..." ...M-More...?

"Jen...What are you...saying...?" I ask, putting Tama-kun back on the table. He sits still again.

Jen turns to me, smiling. "I think you know the answer to that."

"I-I...I don't," I shake my head. He can't be...N-No way! I-I don't want to risk it if he isn't...

Jen laughs, he looks down at Tama-kun. "Tama-kun, do you know if Takato likes anyone?" ...Jen...Y-You...A-Are you...confessing...? Tama-kun picks that exact moment to start another charge at Jen. Jen catches him, saying, "I think your turtle is telling me something..."

"...I-I...I...N-No, Jen...H-he's...He's a turtle! He...He doesn't...N-No...I'm not..." I stammer.

Jen smiles, picking up Tama-kun. "Takato, a little turtle told me that you liked me...Is he right?" ...No...No, please...No...

"I...I..." I look to Jen briefly, he's smiling. That's comforting, but... ...Is he...really...? "Would it bother you...If he was...?" I ask, quietly.

Jen shakes his head, still smiling. "Tama-kun could you give Takato a message for me?" He says as he sits him back on the table. "Could you tell him I like him, too?" He gives Tama-kun a little nudge, Tama-kun starts crawling to me.

All I can do is stare at Jen in shock, my eyes as wide as they can be and my jaw down. He...really said that...?

Jen has to catch Tama-kun as he gets close to the edge of the table, I-I barely noticed him getting close. I just...don't know what to say. Or do. Is this really happening? Did Jen just...tell me he feels the same...?

Jen sets Tama-kun back on the table, Tama-kun sits still with his legs in his shell, he stares at both of us. Jen then gives me a hug, saying, "It's okay, Takato. Don't be so nervous."

"You...feel the same way, Jen?" I whisper. My answer is a kiss on the cheek. I feel the blood rushing to my cheeks in response to that.

"For a long time, Takato. I didn't want to tell you at first because I was afraid of what would happen if you didn't approve. Kenta's 'turtle theory' made me think it was possible." Jen says.

I wrap my arms around Jen. "Thank you, Jen...chan."

Jen lets out a quiet laugh and ends the hug, looking to Tama-kun. "Thanks for telling me how Takato felt, Tama-kun. Good turtle."

Tama-kun yawns, as if to say "my work here is done." Ha ha ha!

Jen and I have been together for about two weeks now. We haven't told anyone yet, of course. Our families definitely can't know. Neither of us are sure how they'd take to the news.

Jen's walking me to a restaurant, I don't know which one it is. He said it's "a surprise." We've been on a few dates and...We've kissed a few times in private. I think Tama-kun is a little jealous, we kissed on my bed once with Tama-kun in my lap. He started scratching on my stomach to try to get my attention, and later he did the same to Jen's leg...

...We try to include him whenever Jen comes over. I think he's become even more affectionate towards Jen since we got together. I guess Tama-kun really did pick up on my feelings for him.

"We're here," Jen says, smiling. He motions to the sign above the restaurant.

I laugh, "Great choice, Jen-chan." The restaurant is called 'The Sleeping Tortoise Tea House.' There's a pair of stone tortoise statues in front and turtle shells painted on the doors. Jen holds the door for me as we go inside...

...And Hirokazu and Kenta are standing at the waiting area in the entrance.

"About time," Hirokazu grins. ...Th-They were...waiting for us...?

I look to Jen, nervously. We haven't told anyone about us, so...We can't be on a date with Hirokazu and Kenta! I sort of quietly stammer, I have no idea what to say to Jen in front of them that wouldn't hint at anything...

"...Takato, what's wrong? You look nervous..." Kenta trails off. His eyes suddenly go wide, his jaw falls. "Wait! Don't...Don't tell me...You...and Jen...? T-Takato! I'm shocked!" Crap...


"We're double dating, Takato-chan," Jen says.

"Jen, I wanted to have some fun..." Kenta pouts.

"Double dating...?" I look to Hirokazu and Kenta. "Y-You two...?"

"Hiro-chan confessed while we were turtlesitting," Kenta says, hugging Hirokazu. Hirokazu blushes slightly.

"Er...K-Kenta...?" Hirokazu trails off. I guess he's not quite ready to be so 'out.' To be honest, I never suspected Hirokazu for a minute...

...Kenta? Um... ...Less suspected more...known. But I didn't want to say anything in case I was wrong, I didn't want to make him mad or suspect me instead.

"Sorry, Hiro-chan..." Kenta lets him go with a smile. Hirokazu clears his throat, nervously.

"Wait, you said Hirokazu confessed while you were watching Tama-kun...?" I ask. ...Exactly how long were those two alone in my room as a couple?

Kenta nods. "Yeah, a few days into your trip." ...Er... ...Kenta-kun...

...Sorry to ask this, but...I have to know for my own sake, so I can sleep tonight. And know if I need to take a long bath, too.

"Hirokazu-kun, Kenta-kun...Um, please, don't take offense to this question but I sort of have to know since you were, um, in my room alone for a week..." I say, glancing away. "...Do I need to wash my sheets?" ...I know Hirokazu. Very well.

Kenta's eyes go wide, but he starts laughing and shakes his head. Before he can speak, Hirokazu speaks up, "Yes! You do! I'd suggest burning them and buying new ones, actually!"

"H-He's joking! We...We didn't..." Kenta shakes his head.

I let out a sigh of relief. "...Sorry to ask, but..."

"Trust me, I'd want to know, too, if I were you," Kenta says, laughing. "We slept on the floor, nothing more."

We go to a table Hirokazu and Kenta had reserved. We're sitting near a huge tank of turtles. All of them are box turtles of different species, one even looks a little like Tama-kun. We've all been watching them since we sat down, though Hirokazu spent some time looking at his menu.

"I like this place," I say. "Great idea, Jen-chan." I feel a little weird calling Jen 'Jen-chan' in front of Hirokazu and Kenta...But with the way Kenta's sort of attached to Hirokazu's arm, it's not as weird I thought it would feel. I am...really surprised that they're together, but...

...Given all the jokes Ruki and Ryou make (actually, even Juri and Shiuchon join in now and then), it makes sense.

"Of course you like this place," Hirokazu says. "It's like a shrine to turtles here..."

"Hiro-chan, be nice, Tama-kun's how we got together."

"I'll give him some papers to weigh down later as thanks," Hirokazu rolls his eyes.

"I like the turtle tank a lot. I want to bring Tama-kun next time to make friends." I joke, Jen and Kenta laugh.

"Tama-kun could use some friends..." Kenta trails off, grinning. "I mean, as much as he likes you and Jen, he could use some turtle friends."

"Kenta, what are you getting at?" Hirokazu asks.

"Nothing, Hiro-chan, but I might ask the waiter if Tama-kun can come next time..." He says, Hirokazu groans. "I'm joking, Hiro-chan."

"Thank the Gods..."

I laugh. Hirokazu really is getting tired of turtles, but...I can't help it, Tama-kun is not only my first pet but because of him, I'm with Jen! ...I've been giving him extra strawberries in his dinner ever since. He likes them a lot, but I think he's also partial to mangos.

...Thanks, Tama-kun, I have Jen-chan thanks to you.

Ori's Notes:
Eh, I wanted to do a follow up to "The Paperweight and The Journal." Not sure if this is going to turn out too well, but I wanted to cover what happened after Takato got home from his trip.

Hope you like how it goes, I think this is one of my weirder ideas...

The title, by the way, means "The Heart's Shell," though the word "Shell" (Kikkou) means "Turtle Shell." I've said it before and I'll say it again: Turtles. Are. AWESOME! Go Turtles!

Taiki's Notes:

I really like Tama-kun, he's so adorable! Though, I see Jen avoided the real reason he found out Takato liked him. I don't blame him since Takato would be quite upset with Kenta and Hirokazu (and possibly Jen).

As usual, I wonder where Ori could be going with this one. The chapter title gives me an idea but I don't like to assume I know anything that goes on in that twisted mind of Ori's. Especially as I'm often wrong.

-Taiki Matsuki