Just A Joke

Today is Takato's birthday and we're throwing a surprise party at the bakery. It was his parents' idea, they even asked Jen to distract Takato while we set up. Jen showed up this morning while Takato was eating breakfast, he said he wanted to take Takato on 'a birthday walk through the city.' It didn't take much convincing, according to Takato's parents. They were worried it might take some effort to get him out of here while we set up.

Jen's been sending me "status updates" with his phone every now and then. Mostly just what they're doing and their ETA on getting here.

For the party, the Matsudas are making a ton of sweet Guilmon bread with extra icing. We even got the help of Jen's older brother and sister, they're setting up a karaoke machine for us, Rinchei had it in storage and let us borrow it. It's the kind you hook up to a TV and it displays song lyrics...

...Of course, Rinchei had to call his Dad for help setting it up and to pick up some missing wires. Jaarin told him he should have taken better care of his toys.

Hirokazu and I are setting out food and decorations while the Li siblings argue in the other room and Mr. Li tries to stay out of it. Juri's helping in the kitchen.

"Think Takato'll like those Guilmon cards I got for him?" Hirokazu asks, putting one last candle on the cake.

"I think he'd prefer it if you just gave him the twenty decks you bought instead of just the five Guilmon cards you found in them," I say with a laugh. "And, Hirok-kun, if you're putting out a candle for every year, Takato's fourteen, now, add one."

"Oh, oops..." Hirokazu adds an extra candle in the center of the cake. "And who needs twenty decks of cards? ...Besides a professional player like Ryou and me." Hirokazu smirks. "And don't complain when I gave you those three MarineAngemon cards."

"I'll treasure them always," I joke, pouring punch into a bowl. "Any idea where Ruki is?"

"She called earlier, she said she'd be running late with Ryou, they're on their way right now," Hirokazu says.

I nod. "Jen texted me a while ago. He and Takato went to a restaurant for lunch and, after that, a movie before they head over here. They'll be back by three as planned," I say. It's about half-an hour before the party is supposed to start.

"Lunch? But we got all this food..."

"Takato's idea, and Jen couldn't say 'no, Takato, you'll fill up before your surprise party,'" I reply with a shrug. "He did make sure it was something small."

Hirokazu nods. "Right."

We hear the door out front open, Ruki and Ryou come into the room just as Mr. Matsuda comes in with a tray of Guilmon bread. "Hey, Ruki, we were just wondering when you'd get here," I say.

Ruki holds a gift in her hand. "Sorry we're late...Everyone else here?"

"Yeah, Jen is out distracting Takato," I say.

"Figures his boyfriend would be the one keeping him busy," Ruki rolls her eyes.

"...Bo-Boyfriend?" Mr. Matsuda asks, the look on his face tells us that he's taking Ruki seriously. "Did...Did you call...Jenrya Takato's boyfriend?" Oh, crap! Nice going, Ruki! I'm sure Takato would love it if his parents were worried he was gay... Seriously, Ruki loves to joke about Jen and Takato like that. They are kinda close but...Not that close!

"Re-Relax, Mr. Matsuda, she jokes like that all the time," I roll my eyes. Ruki's convinced everyone's gay, Hirokazu and I, especially. Ryou, too, but he's 'the dateless gay wonder,' since there's no other male Tamer for him (*AHEM!* Hirokazu is actually straight, sooo...). "Since they're so close and all."

"Oh, right..." Mr. Matsuda nods with a smile, he looks relieved. "Yeah, Takato and Jenrya are really close friends. That's sort of why I thought she was serious at first."

"Who says I wasn't serious?" Ruki crosses her arms with a smirk.

"Ruki, be nice to Takato on his birthday," Hirokazu says.

"Is he here? I can't be nice to someone I can't see."

"Not all of us are gay," I roll my eyes.

"...Kenta, um, what do you mean 'not all of us?'" Hirokazu asks. "That...kinda implies at least one of us is..." ...Shit. I can't believe I said that...

"I-I mean 'none of us,' I just...meant...I-I'm kinda having one of those days, y'know?" I say, quickly. "None of us are gay, Ruki."

Ruki gives me a smirk that...I don't like, let's just say. Well, if she assumes every guy she knows is gay, she's gonna be right eventually. Broken clocks and all, just apply it to gaydar. "You have to admit, though...They are really close friends. Even Mr. Matsuda thought I was serious because of it..."

"I was just surprised, I forgot you're the...um... 'sarcastic' one among Takato's friends," Mr. Matsuda says, I think he wanted to say something other than 'sarcastic.' Probably a word that...starts with a B and rhymes with 'itchy' - Or, rather, ends with 'itchy!' We still love her, though...Like how you can love a tiger without getting mauled: Keep your distance and no sudden movements, loud noises or flash photography.

Juri comes into the room with a bowl of icing for the Guilmon bread. "What did Ruki say this time? I heard you talking in the hall..." She gives Ruki a mock-angry smile. "Not even on Takato's birthday?"

"I'll be nice to him when he gets here, I promise," Ruki replies with a smirk. Sure you will, Ruki. Sure you will...

"Ruki made a gay joke about Jen and Takato, Mr. Matsuda thought she was serious at first," Hirokazu says with a chuckle. "It is kinda funny when you think about it..."

"Uh, yeah, funny..." Mr. Matsuda rolls his eyes. "Speaking of which, any word on what's going on with those two? Where are they now?"

"Oh, they went out to lunch and they're seeing a movie," I reply.


Given what...Ruki just said and all...Um...That kinda...

...Juri sums up my thoughts for me. "That...Ha ha ha...sounds like a date."

"You, too, Juri?" Mr. Matsuda asks, rolling his eyes. "It's not a date."

"Where'd they eat and what movie? That will determine whether or not it's a date," Ruki says.

"...Hold on..." I check my phone, Jen did mention what movie. "...They're eating at that sushi place on Nami street and seeing... ...Wow..." ...If this text message is accurate, then on the heterosexuality scale Jen and Takato have a combined total of three...Out of one hundred.

"...Wow?" Hirokazu asks, raising an eyebrow. Everyone's looking at me with some...very interesting looks. Mr. Matsuda looks even more 'concerned.'

"...It's a romantic comedy," I reply. "They're seeing 'Ai-ya, Ai-ya!'" It's a romantic comedy set in China...And it's a borderline chick flick. I mean, seriously those previews on TV alone even make me feel like I have to do something manly to make up for watching it!

"It's a date!" Ruki smirks. "Since when do guys go see romantic comedies together? Especially romantic comedies like that girly crap!" Ruki lets out a digusted groan.

...Something tells me Ruki does something manly after seeing Ai-ya Ai-ya's previews, too...

"Given the other crap that's playing right now, that might have been the best choice..." Hirokazu trails off. I'm pretty sure he's saying that because, despite being straight as an arrow, Ruki would never shut up if she found out he likes certain 'chick flicks.' Ai-ya Ai-ya included.

And, yes, he dragged me to see one of them...And, believe it or not, I don't like chick flicks. I did have fun pretending it was a date, though...

...After the movie, Hirokazu thanked me for not making a bunch of gay jokes when he realized the movie was "girlier" than he expected (he still loved it, even when he got some "popcorn in his eyes" near the end).

"Explain the sushi place, then, that's...If they got a burger or something, that's one thing," Juri says. "But I know that restaurant, that is not where you go for a quick bite."

"Yeah, it's a popular date spot at school, I hear," Hirokazu adds.

I glance to Mr. Matsuda...He's looking a little pale...I can't really blame him. We are arguing over whether or not his son is gay...

...If Jen and Takato are together, though... ...Wow... How did I not notice? I was so proud of my gaydar! I had Takeshi Himura in my math class pegged as gay from day one. I found out I was right after I walked in on him buying shounen-ai manga...

...The look on his face when he realized I was reading over his shoulder was priceless! Too bad he's seeing someone...

"Yeah, I heard that, too. A lot of couples go there, so if Jen took Takato there for lunch..." Juri trails off with a smile. "They would be pretty cute together."

"Juri, you think Takato and Jen...?" I ask. Juri, for years, thought Takato had a thing for her...We all kinda thought that-Well, given this discussion, most of us thought that...

...And, given how Juri once told me she was "very open" to the idea of her and Takato going out and it never happened... ...Things are looking really...suspicious, let's say.

"Well, um, it would make sense...We...never told you guys, but...I confessed to Takato last year, near the end of summer and um..." Juri glances away. "Don't take this the wrong way, I'm mostly joking, but...Now that I think about it..."

"This I have to hear..." Ruki trails off.

"Ruki, you have the other gift, right?" Ryou comes into the room. "Ru-"

"Shh! Juri's telling us some juicy info on Takato and Jen's secret relationship!" Ruki frowns at Ryou for interrupting.

"...Oh, this I have to hear!" Ryou walks up and stands next to Ruki.

"You...don't seem fazed," I say.

Ryou shrugs. "...Takato's always struck me as kinda gay."

"WHAT?" Mr. Matsuda shouts. I do my best to hold back a laugh, Hirokazu just laughs along with Ruki.

"No offense, Mr. Matsuda, but..." Ryou trails off, nervously. "He's...Well, Takato! Kinda...emotionally sensitive and, um...Just think about it for a moment... Out of his friends, Takato's more like Juri than, say, me, Ruki or Hirokazu." Yeah, good poi-Wait...

Aside from the fact he listed Ruki among the other guys (which she didn't seem to mind), the other day Ryou said Takato and I were a lot alike. Were you hinting at something with that, Ryou...?

Mr. Matsuda stares forward blankly, he goes to a chair by the refreshment table and sits down. "...Holy shit..." ...Ruki, are you telling me you and Ryou have actually convinced Takato's own father that his son is gay? ...That's... ...diabolical, even for you!

"Juri, keep going," Ruki says, ignoring Mr. Matsuda's...semi-catatonic state. He's less upset at the idea or more...shocked. That's what I'm getting from his reaction, at least.

"...Well..." Juri clears her throat. "Um, like I said, last year, around the end of Summer-"

"Matsuda-san, do you have any electrical tape?" Rinchei comes into the dining room from the hall.

"Damn it..." Ruki groans.

"What?" Rinchei asks, Shiuchon walks in behind him, holding a frayed wire.

"...Juri's telling us a story," I say. "Ruki wants to hear it."

"We all wanna hear it," Hirokazu says with a smirk.

"Oh, sorry, just...Um, one of the wires is really frayed and I don't wanna start a fire that isn't localized to a birthday cake in a controlled setting," Rinchei says. "I can wait-" He stops speaking when he notices Mr. Matsuda. "...What's wrong with him?" He motions to Mr. Matsuda with his thumb. "The hell kinda story are you telling...?"

"...Takato and Jenrya..." Mr. Matsuda says.

"...Wha...?" Rinchei looks even more confused.

"Ruki...is trying to convince everyone that Takato and Jen are dating in secret," I roll my eyes. "It's a joke, Mr. Matsuda. Really! Ruki makes these all the time about Hirokazu and I, too!"

"...You mean...You...two aren't?" Mr. Matsuda looks to Hirokazu and I. And the level of shock on his face is...Not comforting.

...Okay, first Ruki, then Ryou...Now Takato's Dad... ...Who's next...?

I turn to Hirokazu, he looks pissed.

"...I hate you, Ruki." Hirokazu says, turning to Ruki with a glare. Ruki (and everyone else except Mr. Matsuda and myself) doubles over in laughter...

...Is it wrong I'm enjoying the fact Hirokazu is always being mistaken for gay...? I'm doing my best not to look like I'm laughing...when Hirokazu doesn't have his back turned. Still, the fact Ruki's gay jokes about us have traveled so far and are, apparently, so believable...!

...Ruki, at the very least, joke that I'm with Ryou. I want Ryou. Maybe you could convince him he's gay and madly in love with me. I mean, you're doing a hell of a job with Jen and Takato right now!

"So-Sorry..." Mr. Matsuda holds back a chuckle.

"Jianliang...gay...?" Rinchei shakes his head. "No way-"

"I knew it!" Shiuchon shouts with a huge smile...

...I so wish Jen and Takato could hear this...Jen's little sister thinks he's gay! Damn it, I wish I had a video camera or even a tape recorder right now!

"What...?" Rinchei looks to Shiuchon. "Y-You're...You're joking, right?"

"Jianliang and Takato are so close! I knew they were in love!"

"...You've been reading too many of Jialing's shounen-ai manga," Rinchei says with a shudder. "Jianliang isn't gay."

"He and Takato are seeing a romantic comedy and they just had a nice sushi lunch at a popular date spot. That is a date. Jen is distracting Takato with a date." Ruki says. "And, Juri...Please tell your story. You confessed to Takato and...?"

"Well, um...When I confessed to Takato last Summer, um..."

"Lianjie, what's taking so long?" Mr. Li steps into the room, behind him is Jaarin. "We need to get that thing working."

Ruki lets out an annoyed groan.

"Dad, you've got to hear what everyone's talking about," Rinchei says with an amused grin. "Seriously."

"We think Jianliang and Takato are in love!" Shiuchon says. "I can't wait 'til Jianliang comes back to tell us! He and Takato are so close, you know? I bet they're really happy together!" ...Wow, talk about support, If I had a sister like Shiuchon, I'd have told my family I was gay on day one of the "acceptance" stage...

...I've come to learn: There are five stages of "Gay": Denial ("I'm not gay."), fear ("But...What if I am gay? What if my friends hate me? What will my family say?"), more denial ("I'm looking at sexy girls online! They have huge boobs! That's what straight guys like to look at! Straight guys like me love boobs! ...For some reason...But...Whatever! I LOVE WOMEN! BOOOOOBS!"), anger ("DAMN YOU AND YOUR BOYISH GOOD LOOKS, RYOU AKIYAMA! DAMN YOU TO HELL!") and then acceptance ("...I'm sorry, Ryou, I was just mad at you because you fill me with confusing emotions and it's just so easy to get lost in those beautiful blue eyes of yours. Can we make out-I mean..make up?").

...Took me about a year from denial to acceptance. I wonder how long it took for Jen and Takato...

"...There's a debate about that?" Mr. Li asks with a smirk, earning a surprised glance from Mr. Matsuda...And everyone else.

SERIOUSLY, MR. LI? Did you...really just say that? About your own son...?

...Jen, can you and I trade families? Pleeeaaase? Or just adopt me? I wanna be Kenta Li, now!

"...You think Jianliang's gay...? And...with Takato...?" Jaarin asks, giving her father a shocked expression. I don't blame her, I mean...Wow. Jen's Dad suspects him...? ...There go those three points they had and then some. On the heterosexuality scale, Jen and Takato are now at negative twenty-six. That's treading into super gay territory...

...I think I'm a negative seven, kinda obvious but can still deny it if it comes up. Happened once with Hirokazu, he saw I had a Daiken Shrine site in my favorites...I told him it was because a friend of mine runs it...

...I just didn't tell him that particular friend lives in the mirror. His name it Atnek.

"Not really, but it would not surprise me in the slightest if they were together," Mr. Li shakes his head. ...Holy shit...

"Juri. Story. NOW!" Ruki says, she's obviously annoyed by the constant interruptions.

"Okay, okay, sorry..." Juri laughs a little. "After I confessed...He turned me down really nicely and felt bad about it. But he was nervous the whole time. And, um, he said 'there's someone else,' and 'someone' I 'wouldn't know.' He never gave me a name no matter how many times I asked. It...was sort of weird, I thought, but...You know how shy Takato is...And looking back, he used gender neutral words the whole time. He never said 'her' or 'another girl.'"

Mr. Matsuda's jaw is as low as it can go...Yeah, Mr. Matsuda, your son is probably gay if Juri's story accurate...

"...Holy shit," Hirokazu's jaw drops. "...You don't think...?"

"They've been together that long...?" Ryou asks.

"...What are you talking about?" Mrs. Matsuda comes into the room. "Takehiro, why...do you look so pale?"

"...Takato is with Jenrya." Mr. Matsuda says. He didn't use 'might,' I think...Yeah, he's convinced at this point...

...I really hope Takato isn't pissed at Ruki for outting him.

"With Jenrya? Well, yeah, they're...out right now, right?" Mrs. Matsuda asks. ...Holy shit, Takato's own Mother-Wait...She might...not get what we're hinting at here...

"As in...They're dating," I say.

Mrs. Matsuda sighs, putting a hand to her forehead. "Are you telling me...everyone in this room...has been debating Takato and Jenrya's orientation for the past ten minutes...?"

"...Ruki started it," Hirokazu, Juri, Mr. Matsuda and I say in unison. Ruki just has an amused chuckle.

"There's actually a lot of evidence to support it," Ryou says. "I mean, seriously, from what I gather...It started with Ruki making a joke and then...Well..."

"I don't believe this..." Mrs. Matsuda rolls her eyes. "Takehiro, why are you this upset over it?"

"Just shocked...I mean...Takato's...gay..."

"...Takehiro, he's just out to lunch with a friend. Ruki jokes all the time. Just because she was right about Hirokazu and Kenta-"

Hirokazu lets out an annoyed scream.

"-Oh, sorry, Hirokazu..." Mrs. Matsuda lets out a nervous chuckle. Ruki, Ryou and the Li family have their laugh...

...And I do, too, I cannot hold back after that. Hirokazu's giving me this really pissed off look right now... "So-Sorry...Hehe...Hi-Hiro...Ha ha ha! Hirokazu-kun...but...It is kinda funny!"

Hirokazu groans. "I am not gay!"

"Well, just speaking hypothetically..." Mr. Li says. "...Would it be a problem?"

Mrs. Matsuda shakes her head. "Not with me...Wait, Mr. Li, you...think it's possible?"

"Jianliang never had too many friends as a kid until he met Takato and, well, I've never seen him so, ah, let's say...'attached' to someone," Mr. Li says. "Takato is the closest friend he's ever had and...He's always happy to see him."

"...He's got a point," Rinchei says. "I mean, Jianliang was a serious loner as a kid..."

"Told you they were in love!" Shiuchon smiles. "Think they'll get married?"

Mr. Matsuda sighs. "...For the record, I...I have no problem with this possibility, I just...didn't see it coming."

"...No offense, Mr. Matsuda, but...Takato is kinda gay," Rinchei says.

"Ryou already said that," Mr. Matsuda rolls his eyes.

I wonder how many people here would also describe Takato as 'kinda gay.'

Just as Mrs. Matsuda is about to speak, we hear the door to the bakery open and the sound footsteps and voices coming down the hall...

I hear Takato, "Huh, I wonder why no-one was up front..." ...Because we've been discussing the (highly likely) possibility that you and Jen are a couple.

Takato turns into the room with Jen behind him. "Wh-What the...?"

There's a long silence as everyone stares at Jen and Takato...Takato looks unsure of what to say while Jen is giving us a look that says: What the hell's going on? Shout "surprise" already!

Mr. Matsuda finally breaks the silence. "...Takato, are you gay?"

"...WHAT?" Takato shouts.

"Oh and...Happy Birthday!" Mr. Matsuda also adds.

"...What the hell ever happened to 'surprise?'" Jen asks, his eyes wide.

Ruki crosses her arms, grinning, "Jen and Takato sitting in a tree..." Jen and Takato exchange surprised glances.

"You two can tell us," Shiuchon says. "Please?"

"I walk up to Takato and Jen, whispering, "Ruki made one of her jokes and... ...Everyone started talking, throwing in their own theories..." I then say aloud and, somewhat sarcastically, "Happy Coming Out Party, guys! Want a slice of cake?" I walk back to the others and face Jen and Takato...

...I so wish I could be recording this!

"...Y-Y-You guys...think...we...w-we're...?" Jen stammers, Takato's...actually blushing and pale like his Dad...I don't know how he manged to do both, but he did it! That's Takato when he's embarrassed for you...

"Ruki started it," Juri says.

"Why am I not surprised?" Jen gives Ruki a frown, Ruki just gives him a sly smile that says 'no use denying it.'

"You two did go to a nice sushi place and saw a romantic comedy," Hirokazu adds.

"You two are really close..." Rinchei says. "I mean, seriously, Jianliang...You've never been as close to anyone as you are with Takato. I mean, your 'best friend' before him was someone you barely ever spoke to...You see Takato daily-Or, hell, hourly sometimes!"

"I wouldn't be upset if it were true, Jianliang. I'm happy for you and Takato," Mr. Li says, giving Jen a reassuring smile and making me want to find away to become a member of the Li family.

...I wonder if I'm the only one who notices the sudden relieved look on Jen's face...

"And, um, Takato...Is Jen that someone else you told me about last Summer?" Juri asks, looking over to Jen with a smile.

"Wh-Wha...? Je-Jen...? M-Me...! You're...You've been debating this?" Takato asks.

"Takato, don't be afraid it it's true," Mrs. Matsuda says with a similar smile to Mr. Li's. "Really."

"Ye-Yeah, I'm...not mad or disappointed, Takato...Just shocked..."

"On that note: If you two aren't gay, we're all going to be very disappointed," Ruki says. "Out with it...No pun intended."

Takato's about to speak when Jen holds out a hand in front of him. "...Jen?" Jen...looks kinda pissed, actually.

"...Takato, we're going to turn around, walk out of the bakery, count to thirty, walk back inside, everyone's going to shout 'Surprise! Happy Birthday, Takato' and you're going to say 'Thanks, everyone! You're such great friends and family who would never talk about my sexual orientation behind my back and then flat out ask me if I'm gay on my own birthday! Thank you so much!' And then we will have a fun birthday party." He looks up at all of us with an annoyed frown. "...Okay?"

Everyone realizes this is...One hell of a "birthday surprise" for Takato, so...Yeah, we're assholes. We give apologetic nods and agree. Except Ruki, she just gives a single nod with another smile. This one says "I knew it!"

Jen and Takato turn around and walk out of the bakery.

Everyone gets into a "hiding" spot or just stands off to the wall. I stand with Hirokazu near the cake.

After a little bit, Jen and Takato come back.

"SURPRISE! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TAKATO!" We all shout, though it still sounded and felt sort of awkward.

"...Thank you..." Takato says, quietly. He still looks embarrassed as hell.

The party goes on normally, no-one brings up the "debate" from earlier...It was pretty rude of us...

And...I know I should respect that, but...

...I just have to know...

Takato steps into the other room for a minute while Hirokazu butchers a song by Wada Kouji with the karaoke machine in the other room. I follow him. "...Hey, Takato." Despite how the party's going now, Takato...looks really nervous. ...I think Ruki might've been right. "...Look, um, I-I know we're all jerks for...the first 'surprise,' but..."

"Kenta...Please, don't..." I hear Jen step up behind me. "I'd expect this from Hirokazu, not you..." He looks really pissed.

"I...Just want to know if I'm alone or not," I say. "Re-Really!"

"A-Alone...?" Takato asks.

"Ruki's right about at least one of us," I reply, smiling. "Please?"


Jen looks steps out into the hall, looking in both directions. "...Okay. ...You can tell him." ...Wow...

Takato nods. "...Since last year, in spring. ...Jen confessed."

I smile, giving Takato a hug. He's taken by surprise. I couldn't help it, I like not being alone! "...Congratulations, Takato-kun. Sorry Ruki's joke more or less outted you. And for...the whole...debate thing back there."

"I'll...feel better," Takato says, hugging back. "I-I just...can't believe that's how everyone greeted me..."

"Don't tell anyone, please, Kenta-kun," Jen says. "We'll...tell everyone eventually but...We'd still like to wait. Even if it's not all that big of a secret at this point." He lets out an annoyed sigh.

"I won't," I say as I let go of Takato. "And...Happy birthday, Takato. Sorry again."

"Thanks, Kenta-kun," Takato smiles.

"Takato! We're ready to light the cake!" Mrs. Matsuda calls from the other room.

"Coming!" Takato calls back. "Ready, Jen-chan?"

Jen nods. "Happy birthday, Takato-chan."

Jen and Takato go into the next room, I follow them after a moment.

I'm happy for my friends and...I really do feel bad about joining in the "debate" from before. I'm glad they forgave me...And told me.

Happy Birthday, Takato! Ruki got you the gift of being out...Whether you like it or not.


Ori's Notes:
Eh...I'm not so sure about this one...I just wanted to play with Ruki's jokes and everyone suspecting something. Hope you got a laugh out of it, at least. Like I mentioned in my notes for Teardrop: If the quality of my fics is worse than usual right now, I apologize.

Mostly, I wanted to play with the usual set up with the characters a little: Ruki makes her jokes, Mr. Matsuda goes pale, the Lis are supportive (especially Xiaochun and Jiangyu), etc. And, with that in mind, have them all getting together and discussing the possibility of Jen and Takato being a couple after one too many gay jokes from Ruki.

As for the whole Kenta and Ryou thing...Eh, I thought it was kinda funny. And, given Hirokazu and Kenta's worship of Ryou in the show...It would make sense, I think.

Originally, Kenta had a lot less "commentary" throughout the fic but...I decided Kenta's "insights" could turn out sort of funny. In theory, at least. In practice...I'll let you decide.

Taiki's Notes:

I got a laugh out of Jen's little speech to the others, ha ha ha! I could certainly see the look on Takato's face from his Father's unusual form of "surprise!"

I agree with Jen that it was quite rude to actually ask him like that! Poor Takato! Being outted by Ruki on his own birthday! That is beyond the evil of her usual antics, Ori! You can't even be nice to Takato on his own birthday. Honestly, Ori, 'Kill Takato' is a theme for the fics we're posting today, isn't it? First a broken leg, now this!

I should point out: Originally, Teardrop and Just a Joke were sent a couple days apart from each other. However, due to a site-wide bug with posting new stories, I could not post either fic. So they sat in the Doc Manager for a couple days. Sorry for the wait, everyone!

-Taiki Matsuki