Author's Notes

This is somewhat of a companion piece to The "Save the Beetles" Campaign. requested something with Koichi and a lion, and this is what immediately sprung to mind. So I hope you spot this fic, and I also hope you enjoy.

That goes for everyone who reads this. Enjoy, and tell me what you think.

Circus Lions and Circus Bears

None dared go so close, Not even their handlers would try and pet their ears…but there was Koichi looking as if they were innocents locked up for a crime. And Tommy agreed, mostly 'cause of the bears. For

Kouichi K/Koichi & Tomoki H/Tommy

'We're going to a circus?' Koichi repeated, not quite sure if he had heard right before reflexively taking a step back (and consequently stumbling over the wire of the game control Tommy was using to obliterate a pixelated version of JP.

Luckily he caught himself…or perhaps it was a moot point since elsewise he would have fallen into his brother's arms. And Koji would have killed Zoe later, courtesy of the black-mail photo that was sure to spring into existence. After all, with a new camera and present photo-taking frenzy, it was too much to hope the blonde would not capture that picture-perfect moment.

As for the reason he had backed away? Takuya had suddenly thrown a fist full of tickets right in front of his nose. And the brunette was still chatting away excitedly as Koichi straightened up and apologized to Tommy. After all, he had obscured half of the screen.

At least he hadn't accidently pulled the adaptor out of the plug since Tommy smiled brightly and pressed a few buttons.

'I paused,' he explained, just as JP gave a rather comical groan.

'And there I was thinking he saved me from getting blown up,' the warrior of thunder said woefully as "GAME OVER" appeared where his character had proudly stood minutes before.

Takuya finally ceased his monologue when he realised no-one was paying attention to him.

'Was anyone listening?' he asked, not sounding wholly annoyed. Talking after all was one thing he excelled in.

'No,' Koji answered flatly, folding his arms before turning to look down at JP (only because the other was lying down and couldn't well look straight. 'You're dead. My turn now.'

JP rolled over, surrendered the remote and crawled to his feet with the help of the coffee table.

'The rest of us already know anyway,' the eldest of their gang pointed out, taking a seat next to Zoe. 'And Kouji's probably already told-'

'I didn't,' the younger twin interrupted, about the same time Koichi stated: 'He didn't.'

The voices synchronised at the word in common, making it sound almost like a single person had been speaking. A hybrid of them.

Of course, that was lost on the participants of the discussion.

'You didn't tell him?' Surprising, or perhaps not, it was Takuya who asked that, a tad incredulously.

Koji made a shrugging sort of motion, tongue between his teeth as he attempted to manevour Tommy's attacks and actually doing better than his predecessor. 'No-one told me to,' he pointed out.

'That's a bit of a no-brainer,' Takuya retorted.

'Are you calling me-!' The younger twin cut himself off when his character blew up upon the screen, courtesy of a younger green eyed boy.

'Grazie,' Zoe cheered, immediately snatching the controller and glad she'd had the foresight to wear pants as she could lie down comfortably. 'My turn.'

Koji sighed and stood up again, glaring at the boys, all of whom were stifling laughter to varying degrees of success.

'You shouldn't get so distracted,' Takuya scolded with a wagging finger, as if he hadn't been the one to distract him in the first place.

The raving said as much in reply.

This time it was JP who shrugged. 'Distraction every time.'

Figures. They were ganging up on him.

'Koichi? Don't you have anything to say?'

'I've never played the game before,' Koichi pointed out.

That was a new tidbit of information that had somehow slipped through the fishing net.

'You haven't played before?' At the other's nod, Takuya gasped in mock-horror. 'That's practically a crime.' Then he grinned, rather devilishly. A grin that caused warning bells to sound in Koichi's brain. 'And how do we punish crimes guys?'

'It's not my fault,' Koichi protested, backing away again and falling onto the couch. That didn't bother the two brunettes though, as they joined him…and started to tickle. He squeaked (a tad high pitched much to his embarrassment) and escaped his friends' clutches to hide behind his brother. Tommy and Zoe were busy trying to blow each other's characters up.

'Traitor,' the elder twin muttered as the other stifled a laugh. Koji quickly changed that to a cough, followed by a squeak when his brother poked him.

'I didn't do anything,' he protested, glaring at Takuya as if to say: "This is all your fault."

The brunette shrugged but wisely decided to give up, snatching up the circus tickets again. 'Can I finish my explanation now?' He deviated slightly. 'Why didn't you tell him?'

'Because.' Now Koji was vaguely annoyed. It should have been painfully obvious. 'We were talking about more important things.'

'Are you saying they're-' It would be a miracle those tickets survived with the way they were being treated. 'Isn't important? It's-'

'Geeze, just tell him now!'

How hadn't either Tommy or Zoe blown up yet?

The circus was…varying degrees of interesting to say the least. Takuya, who'd been to that particular circus every year since he was three years old, was still held captivated by the wonder it possessed, ranging from the twelve year old jumping from the bare back of one horse through a hoop and landing daintily on the other to the clown tumbling heads over heals down the aisle.

Koji' who'd seen many other ones due to all the times he had moved before his teenage years, looked rather bored. Apparently, the show wasn't quite living up to his expectations of it, but as he hadn't left his seat, it could have been simply that he did not wish to admit to the contrary. Zoe and JP hovered in between the two extremes, Zoe finding herself especially thrilled with the assortment of animals and snapping away, and particularly with the bird whistler, a gentle boy with ah kind round face that could make any heart, even the smaller bird's heart, warm to him.

The bears were what had caught Tommy's attention. The clowns of the animal world, tumbling like clumsy clowns, putting on kitchen mitts and having a mock boxing match, and playing Ring-a-Ring-of-Rosies until they fell down with a plop.

The lions were next, and everyone was held in awe by them, and the two lion-tamers with their long curled whips striking the ground at every interval. There were a rare few though, Koichi included, who winced every time the whip struck the ground with a sharp "crack" and the lions growled, or whimpered, in retaliation. By the end of their turn, they slunk off into their ready cage, tails dragging and large eyes pooling in misery. Anyone looking could see they hated it. That any minute, if it wasn't for those whips they were threatened with, they could tear their "tamers" apart with their claws. Perhaps that was why they all had manes. Not everyone knew it, but it was the female lions that were the hunters of the pride, being swifter, agile and potentially more dangerous. The males were hindered by their manes.

The rest of the show seemed to dim a little after the lion spectacle. After all, it was only people left. And they couldn't quite live up to the performance of animals.

'Hey, look,' Tommy whispered after they had slipped out, pointing at the cages lined up. 'There's no-one here.'

'That's because people are still in there,' Takuya complained. 'Why did we have to leave early?'

'Because it's not interesting anymore,' Koji rolled his eyes. 'JP was falling asleep.'

'I was not,' the elder brunette denied, rubbing at his eyes in complete contradiction.

'Yes you-' Zoe cut herself off with a yawn. '-were,' she finished. 'And so was I-Guys?'

Tommy and Koichi were both looking at the cages. Or rather, the two nearest to them. The bears who looked to be playing some sort of game merrily, uncaring of the bars, and the lions snarling at their metal prison in a sort of crossed fashion between

Tommy and Koichi were both looking at the cages. Or rather, the two nearest to them. The bears who looked to be playing some sort of game merrily, uncaring of the bars, and the lions snarling at their metal prison in a sort of crossed fashion between anger and defeat. They made an interesting comparison.

'The bears sure seem like they're having fun,' Tommy commented. 'The lions…not so much.'

'That would be an understatement,' Koichi murmured, but typically made no move to elaborate on the whirlwind blowing through his head. Instead, he just watched the lions growl pathetically with a look of pity on his face.

Takuya shrugged and turned back to Zoe. 'How could you be falling asleep?' he asked incredulously. 'I see that every year and I'm never bored.'

'Not bored,' the blonde corrected. 'But all the amazing stuff was at the beginning. Right?'

There were only three replies.

'Um…Koji? Koichi?'

'Yeah,' the younger twin muttered, sounding a little bored, though that changed with the next statement. 'Koichi!'

They all spun around, JP having the misfortune of being right next to Koji and therefore getting a bit of a scare at the sudden exclamation.

Koichi turned and cocked his head slightly, before putting a finger to his lips.

Koji quietened slightly, but not a whole lot. 'What are you doing?' he hissed, darting forward…before stopping as one of the lions lifted his head and snarled.

'Eep,' Tommy whispered. 'They look really scary now.'

"They", the lions, were suddenly erect and perfectly aware of the human that was standing within arm's reach of the outer cage. It was anybody's guess (except the person and animals involved) whether the look was of anger, hunger…or something else.

Then Koichi took a step closer, Koji closed the distance (the lions were in their cage, and even if they weren't, that was his brother!), and the lions growled again.

The younger twin swallowed a gulp (not that he'd ever admit that to anyone else…except perhaps Koichi), but managed to restrain himself from taking a step back.

Koichi turned to him, and then offered a smile. 'It's okay,' he said quietly. 'They won't bite.' He turned back to the lions as one came up to the bars of the inner cage, and the smile dimmed. 'They don't enjoy it. Not one little bit.'

He reached out a hand, but the distance was too great. Koji's own hand almost shot out to pull the other's out, but then the lion did something utterly unexpected. He purred, almost like a cat, and tried to shove his ears through his own cage.

There were five gasps.

'Sorprendente,' Zoe breathed. 'Amazing.'

The lion, in that minute, looked as tame as a domestic kitten. But then there was a yell and the crack of a whip, and the animal both snarled and shrunk back into the depths of the case. The others growled in like, causing Koji to take an unhindered step back. Koichi didn't move.

'Hey,' a voice yelled. 'Get away from those cages.'

The mutter that followed included something about "blasted kids" as one of the tamers from the ring marched right up to the six, twins in particular.

'We weren't doing anything.' Takuya was immediately on the defensive, seeing as Koichi seemed preoccupied and Koji…well, he was more interested/concerned about his brother than anything else.

'Just get away,' the tamer snapped, straightening the whip again. 'This area is private property.'

One of the bears turned and waved cheerily. Blinking in surprise, the four not preoccupied with the lions waved back.

'My my,' said a new voice, this one belonging to the man who trained the bears. 'It seems my pups have made some new friends. Want a closer look?'

Tommy was the first to agree to that, but they all went, even the twins as the lions gave the elder a forlorn look…although they preserved a special snarl for Koji as he turned back.

'Man, they're adorable,' Zoe grinned, watching Tommy pet a wet nose with ease. 'They look like they've known you forever.'

'They certainly do,' the bear trainer grinned, sending the lion-tamer off with a few choice words and a promise to keep the gang away from the lion cage. 'My, you may have been one of my own precious pups.'

He blushed as the bear clumsily petted him, before giggling. 'That feels funny,' he commented. 'Warm though.' He looked up at his friends. 'Why don't you guys join in?'

They looked at each other, than at him. 'We didn't really move,' JP pointed out. 'Apparently, we're not as bearable as you.'

Takuya snorted as Koji rolled his eyes. 'Of all the stupid puns,' the younger twin mumbled, before staring as the bear trainer roared with laughter.

'Bearable,' he chortled. 'Good one.'

The twins exchanged glances, before JP turned around. 'By the way,' he said, staring as Koji. 'Was it just my imagination, or did that lion growl at you after purring at your brother?'

Koji put on a face that would come off as a scowl to anyone else, but a pout to them.

'All cats love him. Big or small.'

'Is that another intended pun?' JP asked.

'You see me doing that about your beetles?' the ex-warrior of light shot back. 'It's probably spiritual empathy. Koichi's beast spirit was a lion after all.'

No-one mentioned that it had, previous to that, been an eagle.

'But Tommy's was an ape.' Takuya was still a little confused.

Koji rolled his eyes again. Luckily, they were all talking quietly enough so the kind bear trainer couldn't hear. Otherwise they'd have some explaining to do.

'His human spirit was a bear.'

'Oh…right.' He thought for a moment. 'That means you've got wolves-'

'-dogs in general-'

'-and Zoe's got birds and butterflies.' He paused again. 'Oh man, why did BurningGreymon have to be a dragon? I'll never see one of those!'

'There's always snakes,' the ex-warrior of darkness offered calmly, amidst the chortling that ensured. Even the bears joined in on the laugh-fest, whether they understood the reason or not.

'Uurgh, no thanks.'

'Or lizards. Or crocodiles.'

'Great.' The brunette was a little sarcastic. 'If a crocodile tries to take a bite out of someone, I'll just tell them to clamp their jaw.'

'We should be grateful Koichi didn't get it into his head to try and free those lions though,' JP pointed out, and Zoe shuddered at the thought.

'Imagine them loose in the city. No-one'd sleep.'

Koji gave his brother an odd look. 'Tell me you didn't.'

They all stared, but Koichi shook his head. 'It's no-where near as easy as setting a bunch of beetles free from a classroom,' he said reasonably. 'And they're well fed and safe from hunting at least. The only place they'd be better off at is a zoo, or maybe Africa. They're scared of the whips, but they're better than guns, or butcher's knives, or anything else that's out there. They know deep down they won't really be hurt.'

'Well…' Koji sighed after a moment of silence, except for a bear plopping onto Tommy's foot, causing him to sit with a bit of a gasp. 'Can you not try and pet them like that next time? How did you know they wouldn't have taken off your hand if it hadn't been for the inner cage?'

Koichi just shrugged. 'Everyone needs comfort,' he said calmly, but whatever he meant by that statement, he chose to keep to himself.