Disclaimer: Dash, Kiri, Sam and Cory are my own creations, and shouldn't really wake anyone's ire I think. Unless perhaps you hate turtles. *grins* Not that I actually know anything about turtles, so don't take things too seriously. I just had fun playing with them. This is another story written one night during a bout of insomnia, which kind of says it all. Oh, and in case you're wondering, 'kirei' means 'pretty' in Japanese.

No particular warnings, I think, as this is meant to be comedic for most part. Of course, if the idea of a gay turtle upsets you, you shouldn't be reading this. Really. Lesbian stuff up ahead, especially in turtle land.

Feedback would, as always, be greatly appreciated at rosmari.karlssonfaltin@telia.com .

Ignorance is Bliss
by Carola "Ry
ûchan" Eriksson

Dash was a small green she-turtle of a kind especially bred by humans to be tiny, extremely colourful, friendly, and equally comfortable on land and in the water. They had come into being originally as an alternative for the increasing number of people unable to have one of the more common pet animals, such as a cat, dog or mouse, but their popularity spread quickly, and more and more variables of the original breed came into being. They were considered smart, surprisingly teachable for such small creatures, affectionate with their human masters, and very resilient.

Dash herself was an unusual specimen in many ways. This story begins in a pet shop when she was roughly four years old - thereby ignoring her happy days as a little turtling, merrily swimming about with her many sisters - and her human came into her life.

Dash's human was a female, gentle, with a pleasing voice and a penchant for carrying snacks, and other humans seemed to refer to her as Sam. If she seemed shorter than most other humans, or somewhat darker, Dash didn't really notice. Her human provided ample food, a good tank, and many pleasant scratches in those hard-to-reach places, and that was all Dash cared about.

The day Dash and her human met, Dash had been taken by one of the humans working at the pet shop she lived in to a larger tank where the females of her kind was suddenly put together with the males. Dash's sisters were happily engaging in mating behaviour with the males, but Dash decided she would have none of it.

"Look at that green one." The human who had placed Dash in the tank said to Sam "What on earth is she doing?" Both humans leaned into the side of the tank.

"Goodness Cory, look at her go!" Sam followed Dash as she… dashed back and forth in the tank at a furious speed. "Is it normal for the females to fight the males like that?"

"No, it isn't!" The one called Cory sounded alarmed. "She's supposed to be breeding, not mutilating every male in reach!" And Dash, infuriated with the audacity of these… males, made a good show of her fighting spirit. "Oh god, she'll kill them if we don't get her out of there!" Together the two humans scooped Dash out and put her in another container.

And so ended Dash's first trip in the big tank.

The second time Dash met her human was months later, as Dash was once again placed in the big tank with all the other girls and boys. This time Dash didn't wait for the males to start moving towards her, but raced instead to meet them.

"Oh god…" Cory groaned, horrified to witness a repeat performance of the last time she had been unfortunate enough to tend the mating tank.

"Isn't that the same little green one as the last time?" Sam was with her again even though Sam did not work at the pet shop, and this time, so was the owner of the shop. "I think it is, look, she has those fluorescent green spots on her head." It didn't take them long to have Dash removed from the tank this time, and frankly Dash was upset that they had ruined her fun. The owner decided that Dash was never again to be put in a tank with other turtles, male or female - after all, two mating seasons was hampered because of Dash apparent homicidal tendencies - and Dash was put in a small tank all by herself, awaiting a final decision. The words 'put her down' was spoken more than once.

But Sam had taken an interest in the stand-offish little turtle, and asked if she could buy her instead. The owner agreed to let Sam have Dash for free, as long as he was not held responsible for any damages made by the violent little beast. Dash proved herself to be very affectionate with her owner however, showing no violent tendencies towards any human that tried to pet or feed her. Dash heard Sam making jokes about something called 'lesbian' or other that the other humans found very humorous, stating that no wonder that Sam and Dash got on so well together, but Dash didn't pay it any mind.

And got along they did.

It took Sam a long time before she could collect Dash from the pet shop, during which time Dash spent all alone in her tank, looking longingly through the glass at other turtles along the walls of the shop. Sam was determined to make Dash the very finest home she could, buying a huge tank and filling it with interesting shapes, plants and crevices that Dash might enjoy, even making a part of the tank above water so she could fill it with sand for when Dash wanted to be on land. She also bought colourful little fish and put into it, so that Dash would have some company in the tank.

During this time Sam came by to visit Dash frequently, and Dash discovered that she liked her human, who always brought a piece of salad or cucumber with her, and who would scratch her neck for her. It was also during this time that Dash got her name.

"I should be jealous, shouldn't I?" Cory asked Sam one day when Sam was picking Dash up from her tank to play with her for a while. "You're here more to see that little rascal than you're here to see me, that's for sure." Although Cory did not seem terribly upset.

"Aww Cory, how can I resist?" Dash could have told Sam that she couldn't, but she was busy munching on a piece of cabbage at the moment. "She's such a little character, this one."

"So, what will you call her?" Cory leaned on Sam's shoulder pretending to look at Dash, but Dash could tell that she was looking at Sam instead.

"I think I'll call her… Dash. Because she's dashing, and no-one could keep up with her in the tank." Both humans laughed, but Dash was inordinately pleased with her new name.

The days passed, and Dash got depressed. It was fun whenever Sam or Cory would pick her up and play, but staying alone in her tank was so boring. The humans seemed to pick up on her mood, Sam especially - Dash would always think that Sam must have been part turtle, because she was unusually sensitive and sensible for a human - and tried to think of what to do. Finally it was the day that Sam was going to take Dash home with her, but she wanted to try and make Dash feel better first.

So Sam decided that Dash wanted some company of her own kind.

"You know that the boss would have my head for this, don't you?" Cory sounded nervous as Sam put Dash in a tiny divider within the big tank that Dash had been in before all that nonsense with the male turtles. This tank only held the slightly smaller female turtles, and Dash was quite happy to be back, but there was that irritating divider in place.

"Don't worry, we won't let her loose in there. And besides, I have a feeling she's just aggressive when she's among the males." Sam assured Cory, and they both watched the goings-on in the tank intently.

Many of the turtles swam up to the divider to take a look at Dash at first, and Dash was happy to see so many of her own kind. But the others soon lost interest and swam off, leaving only a few still curious about Dash. That was when Dash met her.

A tiny female, smaller than Dash herself, swam up to the divider. She was a red, not fluorescent green like Dash herself, but very pretty in her patterns of dark and light reds, and Dash really wanted the divider out of the way.

They stayed close by, hovering on each side of the divider and looking at each other, long after all the other turtles had lost interest and swam away. Dash was momentarily distracted from the pretty stranger when she heard her human say "I think she likes her." Sam sounded rather pleased, and suddenly Dash was lifted out of the tank again.

Dash was not pleased to be taken away from that pretty red, and tried to squirm out of Sam's grip - something Sam seemed to find amusing - but she still ended up in her lonely tank. Moments later, however, Dash was surprised to find that Cory was putting that pretty red in the tank with her.

"I had better not have to explain to the boss how another one got maimed by that little brawler of yours, Sammy." Cory warned, but Sam grabbed her arm and pulled her down to crouch in front of the tank with her.

"Don't worry Cory, they're getting along just great. See?" If Dash had not been so occupied happily swimming around the pretty red, she would have noticed that although Cory made an agreeing noise, she didn't really look at the tank. Instead, Cory was looking at Sam's smile.

"Aren't you the lucky one, Dash?" Sam cooed to Dash through the glass. "You've found your girl now, and she's a pretty one." Sam smiled some more. "I think I'll call her… Kirei. Kiri. Yes, Kiri will do nicely."

Cory laughed. "You're such a nut, Sammy. A romantic, but a nut." Then Cory hugged Sam until Sam reminded her that they had to get Dash and Kiri a small travel tank so she could take them home with her.

The journey to Sam's home was tumultuous for the two turtles, but Dash was quite happy as she sloshed along. Once they arrived, Sam and Cory wasted no time in carefully introducing Dash and Kiri to their new home.

"I hope you'll be happy here." Sam said and patted Dash a little on her head before letting her joyfully hurl herself into the water. Kiri followed at a far more sedate pace.

"They'd better be, or I'll turn the ungrateful little buggers into turtle soup." Cory muttered playfully and put her arm around Sam. "Whaaat? You spent a fortune on this tank! Not to mention all the time and effort you've put in to make everything just so, that's all I'm saying." Sam pretended to pinch Cory for her horrifying joke - Dash thought she should at least have bit her cheek a little - and Cory grinned. Dash decided she was going to ignore them both for now, she had more interesting things to do.

"Huh, would you look at that." Cory said after a while. "What is that freaky little thing doing now, loops?" Cory and Sam leaned in closer to get a better look at Dash's antics. "Ah, did you see that? Flips and somersaults! What is this thing, a dolphin in disguise?"

Sam laughed. "Can't you tell she's trying to impress her girl, Cory?" Sam smiled affectionately at her new pets. "Isn't that right, Dash?"

Cory snorted, then tapped the side of the tank to get Dash's attention. "Oi, peabrain! Stop spinning around her like that or you'll make her seasick or something. Not to mention scare the li'l tyke." Dash stopped immediately and turned to face Cory, something that made Sam start to laugh.

"never mind Sam, now if you want to woo your girl you take it easy with her. Go explore, or get her some nice dinner…" Cory was interrupted in her advice by Sam's laughter. "Hey, shush, we're having a bonding moment here!"

Sam laughed even more. "You're… giving dating advice to my turtle!" Cory pretended to lunge at Sam, but it was quite obvious to Dash that Cory just did that so she could wrap her arms more tightly around Dash's human. No matter, Sam seemed comfortable enough, and Dash had some advice to think about.

"Perhaps I was just trying to tell you something." Cory smirked and waggled an eyebrow suggestively.

"Yeah, and don't I know just what, too. But alright, I promised you dinner, so come on, let's get you dinner." Sam moved off into the kitchen, completely missing that Cory had leaned down towards her in a rather telling way, and that Cory looked rather sadly after her when she left.

But as previously stated, Dash had more important things to consider. She brought Kiri with her and thoroughly explored her new home, and all the living things in it. When it was all done, Dash had to admit that her new home was quite simply excellent - there was so much to look at, so many curious shapes to investigate closer, and maybe she could race some of the fish around the plants sometime. Yes, it looked much better than the tanks she had been in before.

Dash also discovered that Kiri was a very timid and shy turtle who, while willingly following Dash on her little adventure, tended to hide behind Dash if she got startled. Kiri admired that Dash was such a brave and bold turtle, and something about shy Kiri made Dash have this very very big feeling. It was much bigger than Dash's little body, in fact it seemed to Dash that this feeling felt like it was bigger than all the tanks and all the humans in the whole world!

That was when Kiri swam up to Dash and shyly nuzzled her head.

Now, to Dash's defence she had never been nuzzled before, much less by someone as cute as Kiri. And even though Dash was just a tiny turtle, she had this feeling that was so very much bigger than she, all for Kiri. If Dash had really had any say in the matter, things would have been differently - after all she was trying very hard to impress Kiri, not startle her or embarrass herself.

Because when Kiri nuzzled Dash's head, Dash froze. And forgot to swim.

And so she sank like a rock all the way to the bottom of the tank, landing among the stones and startling a few fish on the way.

Kiri was startled, and Dash was very embarrassed. But even more deliriously happy! Dash tried very hard not to start swimming around very fast in circles and pirouettes and do flip-flops and generally make Kiri and the fish feel like there was a storm in the tank, she really did. But she was so happy she had to bounce around at least a little.

Kiri decided that she thought that Dash was very amusing… and very cute.

Dash decided that she wanted very much to have Kiri nuzzle her again. She thought about what Cory had said, and that it had seemed to be right - perhaps that tall human who looked like she was supposed to be a fluorescent yellow wasn't so stupid after all. Dash hadn't decided if she was going to forgive her for the trips in the mating tank just yet, but… food.

Dash got up to the surface and looked around at their sand and hay-decorated home above the water. It was very nice, too. Kiri came with her, of course, and soon Dash had found the food bowl she was looking for.

But it was empty. How could her human forget something so important!

Dash tried to lift the bowl a little, in order to bang it and get Sam's attention, but the bowl was heavy and larger than Dash herself. Then Dash started bouncing on it, hoping that the small clanking noise of her shell bouncing on the ceramic would be loud enough.

Food! Food! Dash needed food, and now! Tasty food! Sam needed to bring Dash lots of big chunks of tasty treats! Foodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfoodfood!

"Huh, would you look at that." Cory said to Sam. "It looks like your little spunky buddy is planning on getting herself into orbit, the way she's bouncing in the food bowl."

"I thought you fed them before we left the shop?" Sam asked worriedly and picked up the salad bowl she had made for her and Cory's dinner.

"I did." Cory sounded a bit confused. "I fed all of them just before you arrived." She watched as Sam put a few pieces of cucumber, carrot and cabbage in the bowl that Dash now had exited. No sooner had the pieces been dropped than Dash rushed in, snatched herself a piece of carrot, and carefully carried it over to Kiri. There she dropped it and waited expectantly for Kiri to have a bite.

"Ooh, I think she's feeding her." Sam giggled and bumped Cory's shoulder.

"Heh, nonsense, Dash is just following my advice that's all. Good girl." Cory grinned. "She's definitely out to score."

"Hmph, you're such a silly thing Cory. Ah, look!" Kiri, after taking a bite out of the nice treat, rewarded Dash with good nuzzle, just like Dash had hoped. "How cute, it looks like they're kissing."

Dash was so happy she fairly vibrated, bouncing slightly around as Kiri continued to eat.

Cory chuckled. "Dash is such a goofball, it's no wonder you get along so well. Are you sure you didn't feed her some caffeine while I wasn't looking?"

"Who are you calling a goofball, huh?" Sam muttered, then grabbed Cory by the arm and dragged her off towards the kitchen. "Anyway we haven't finished dinner yet… so you get your butt back in there!" Cory just grinned.

Days, weeks, perhaps even months passed, and Dash and Kiri were completely happy together. Their home was perfect, Sam provided them with delicious food, and occasionally Sam would take them out of the tank to play on the floor of the apartment. Cory also came by often to visit, so often in fact that Kiri considered Cory their other human. Dash wasn't so sure about that, but she figured Cory was alright after all - if she could only remember to feed Sam something sometime. Human mating rituals were so tiresome to watch.

In fact, Dash blamed their unsuccessful human mating practises for the horrible rudeness that Sam and Cory both displayed one day when Cory was visiting them.

Cory and Sam had played with Dash and Kiri earlier, and then gotten on with whatever it was that humans do, leaving Dash and Kiri to their own entertainment in the tank. They had been fed, and was certain to be left mostly alone for the evening, and things had progressed accordingly. But not so.

What are they doing?" Cory exclaimed, clearly shocked. "Are they… mating?"

"Umm… yeah, I think so." Sam said awkwardly. "I wasn't sure before, but… and they seem to do it a lot. Is that normal for turtles of their kind?"

"Huh. Uh, I mean, haven't a clue." Cory stared. "Seems like our Dash thinks she's a male." Cory looked at Sam. "She isn't a male, right?"

"You're asking me?" Sam said incredulously. "You're the one who works in the pet shop, remember?"

"Yeah but…" Cory and Sam was quiet for a moment, and at least Sam had the good grace to blush about the whole thing.

"It looks like they're… enjoying themselves." Cory said slowly.


"You know that's not really possible, y'know, technically, right?"

"I kind of figured it might be. But as long as they're happy, does it matter?"

Cory scratched her head. "No, I suppose not. I guess it's true what they say, you know, that ignorance is bliss."

Yup, Dash thought, bliss, pure bliss, absolute bliss, and couldn't be more so - if it weren't for two nosy humans that didn't seem able to stop staring at a turtle's intimate moments with her partner, or, worse, making annoying comments about it!

"Wow…you really did manage to get a gay turtle, didn't you?" Cory grinned. "I guess that means that there's only one thing left to do." Cory walked over to Sam's desk and rooted through her drawers. "Aha!"

"What do you prefer, Sam, hearts, rainbows or stars?" Cory grabbed a pen and made as if to write something.

"Is that those rainbow stickers we had left from January? Hearts, I think."

And so Cory came back and stuck a small heart-shaped sticker on the tank that had the words 'Dash & Kiri' neatly written on it in black. "There, all done."

Sam laughed. "Come on, Goofy, you promised me a video and popcorn night. Let's leave the girls on their own for right now, hmm?"

"Only if you'll snuggle with me on the couch!"

Cory didn't get an answer other than Sam's laughter, but either way both humans finally went on their way, leaving Dash and Kiri alone for the rest of the night.

A week later something far more unsettling than being rudely ogled happened to Dash and Kiri. Neither of them blamed their humans for what happened, as any turtle with sensibility could tell that it was all that other human's fault.

What happened was that Sam brought Dash and Kiri over to Cory's apartment for the weekend, the humans having decided on something called a sleepover. Cory didn't own a fish tank and had to borrow one from work, but it wasn't very large so Dash and Kiri would be allowed to spend a lot of time on the floor. Cory had assured Sam that she had made certain areas secure for small turtles, so everything should have been just fine.

One of those safe areas was the porch, since Cory had put together a couple of big boxes that Dash and Kiri could crawl around in as the humans were sunbathing. Sam dozed off after a while, and Cory went back inside to get some drinks.

When she came back her neighbour from the other end of the building, Bill, was putting his own turtle into the box with Dash and Kiri. Cory's yell woke Sam up and on her feet in an instant.

"WHAT do you think you're DOING?!!" Cory was really angry, and tried to set the pitcher and glasses she was holding down quickly. Sam, slightly bleary-eyed and still not quite clear on what was going on, dove at the box and managed to catch Dash, in the process pushing the box away from herself.

"Oh!" Bill said, startled. "But Donna is a gentle turtle, and your friend said yes when I asked." He paused. "Actually, she said something like 'Oh yes please' and 'do it', so I thought it was OK…"

"She was asleep you moron!" Cory blushed nearly as badly as Sam, a nice red shade that would have matched Kiri perfectly.

"never mind that, help me find Kiri!" All three rushed over to the box where the slightly larger blue turtle was making its way towards Kiri.

"Did you say your Donna is a gentle turtle, Bill?" Cory asked hesitantly. "Perhaps we overreacted?"

Sam looked at Kiri. "Isn't Kiri… backing, Cory?" Dash was squirming in her hands. "Does Donna get along well with other she-turtles, Bill?"

"Well, I haven't had Donna together with any other turtle since the pet shop, but they never said there was any trouble with girl turtles there." Bill scratched his head and looked rather confused.

Dash was considering for once in her life to actually bite her human. Her Kiri was terrified of that big brute that was trying to corner her, and her humans weren't doing a thing about it!

Sam looked at Dash, squirming frantically in her grip, and then at Kiri who really was backing away from the newcomer by now. "Donna wouldn't happen to be a… male, now would she, Bill?"

Bill blinked. "Yeaaah, of course Donna is a guy. It's actually Donathello, but I always call him Donna."

Cory dived for the box to scoop up Kiri at the same time as Dash got loose from Sam's grip. Dash sailed in a perfect, graceful arch that all three humans seemed to be watching in slow motion, headed straight for the blue turtle.

If humans had been able to hear turtles voices Sam, Cory and Bill would have heard Dash emit a blood-curdling cry of 'DIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE!!!'"

Then Dash plonked down right in front of Donathello and lunged forward, locking her jaws around his neck and sending a tiny squirt of turtle blood into the air. She was quite simply going to kill this disgusting male for daring to put the moves on her girlfriend!

Bill shrieked. And tried to tear Dash away from his Donathello but only managed to make matters worse. Sam rushed to help him, and managed to pry Dash away from the bleeding turtle.

Cory was cradling Kiri while yelling furiously at her neighbour. "You moron! What where you thinking?! I oughta kick you in the…"

"Whoa, easy there Cory." Sam interceded before Cory decided to make good on her threat. "His turtle is injured, he needs to take care of him right now." Turning to Bill she said quickly. "Go to the pet shop where Cory works, they have a lot of experience with turtle injuries there. Just hurry."

Bill turned and ran off, presumably more out of worry for his injured pet than out of fear for his livid neighbour. Cory yelled after him "AND JUST WHAT KIND OF NICKNAME IS DONNA FOR A MALE ANYWAY?!"

If humans had been able to hear turtle voices, they would have heard Dash doing the same.

WHERE ARE YOU GOING?! COME BACK HERE AND FIGHT LIKE A TURTLE, you girlfriend-scaring… MALE! Dash squirmed in Sam's hands and waved her flippers furiously. That's right, JUST KEEP RUNNING you COWARD, run back to your hatcher with your tail between your flippers!

Somewhat shakily Sam went inside to put Dash down in the tank that Cory had borrowed. Cory followed her and put Kiri in the tank as well, watching for a moment how Dash hurried to check her over as if looking for injuries.

"Is she OK?" Sam asked quietly. Cory could hear the shakiness of Sam's voice, and knew she was crying even before she turned around to face her. When Cory wrapped her arms around Sam she didn't resist, but buried her face in the taller woman's shoulder.

"There, there." Cory said gently. "No need to cry, they're both alright. And I'm sure that Bill's turtle will be alright too, as soon as they look him over at the shop."

"She must have been afraid." Sam muttered into Cory's shoulder.

"What? Naw, no way, Kiri had her girlfriend the killer turtle with her, I bet she was just waiting for a chance to play the damsel in distress." Sam chuckled a little, and Cory hesitated. "You got more upset because you got woken up so harshly, didn't you?"

Sam didn't answer, so Cory tried to lighten the mood. "Sounded like you got disturbed in a pretty good dream, too. Was it anybody I know?" She teased, looking just a bit scared as she did so. "Come on now, tell Cory all about it."

"Goofball." Sam snorted. "Since when do I know anybody that you don't? But no, it wasn't anybody really." Sam hesitated. "It… just gets lonely sometimes, you know?"

"I know." Cory sighed, then continued in a quiet voice. "You… don't have to be though. Alone I mean."

Now if Sam had not had her head still buried in Cory's shoulder for all this, she might have noticed some things. Like the way Cory held her, for instance, or the sadly longing expression in Cory's face when she spoke. But since Sam did have her face still hidden, she just patted Cory back in a friendly fashion before backing away a little. "Yeah, maybe someday, right? Thanks sweetie."

Sam swiped at her cheeks. "Are you sure they're alright?" Cory shifted on her feet for a second, then turned to glance towards the tank. Then she did a double take.

"Umm, somehow I think they're much better than alright at the moment, Sammy…"

Mine! Dash was exclaiming, not so much possessively as simply overjoyed, Mineminemineminemineminemineminemineminemine!

Sam turned to look. "Wha…?" She slapped a hand over her eyes and began giggling. Cory began chuckling too, until they were both shaking with mirth.

…mine! Kiri added, and Dash could have done triple somersaults in sheer ecstasy, that is, if she hadn't already been occupied.

"You guys are incorrigible! Get a room!" Sam snickered.

"Maybe that's our cue to go do something else. Didn't you bring a couple of tapes for us to watch?" Cory grinned and steered Sam away. "I'll bring the popcorn if you get the tapes…"

The rest of the adventure known as The Sleepover turned out to be more peaceful. Cory had some very interesting floors to explore, and she introduced Dash and Kiri to a strange new food called a banana, that proved to be very messy, but good. The last day of their stay, Sam and Cory put Dash and Kiri in the bathtub which, while not filled with interesting things like their own tank, was at least large enough for Dash to swim around in like she was used to. All in all, Dash and Kiri agreed that it had been a good adventure.

It was a week later when Cory came over for dinner, which, in itself, seemed absurd to Dash since Cory had dinner there all the time, but apparently this was a different thing. Kiri pointed out that usually when Cory ate there, Sam wouldn't spend nearly all day preparing the food, nor did she put those pointy glowing things near it. Dash thought it was probably because it for some reason had gotten a bit dark in there, and they needed to see their food in order to eat it, but none the less both turtles were very curious about what was going on.

And as always when Cory and Sam would eat together, Dash hoped that Cory would remember her own advice about feeding your female. It was so tiresome watching all these failed attempts at mating, and for some reason Dash felt sorry for Cory for always being turned down.

Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to happen though, Sam and Cory ate - and Cory forgot to feed Sam again, much to Dash's displeasure - and talked. In fact they spoke for so long that Dash was all but certain Sam had forgotten that there were two hungry turtles in need of some nice green foodstuffs before Sam and Cory actually came by to feed them.

"Sorry guys, I lost track of time." Sam apologized as she piled up salad in the bowl for Dash and Kiri. Dash would have assured her that it was alright, but she thought she had better show Cory once more how things were properly handled with your female, so she rooted out a nice piece of carrot and carried it over to Kiri.

"Oh look, she's being cute with the food again." Cory grinned and put her arm around Sam. Sam looked slightly surprised at first, but leaned into Cory and watched her pets.

Observe, Dash thought, dropping the slice and waiting for Kiri to approve. Kiri thought Dash was being very thoughtful to help their humans this way, not to mention very cute, so she gave Dash an extra long head nuzzle for her efforts.

Dash promptly forgot all about silly humans.

"Aww, they're so adorable together." Sam sighed and leaned into Cory even further.

"Yeah… huh, guess they're as addictive to each other as they are to us people." Cory wrapped her arms tighter around Sam, and they stood there lost in thought for a moment.

"Umm." Sam groaned and shook her head wryly while Cory started laughing. "Dash, you brute! At least let her finish eating first!"

"Don't be too hard on the girl…" Cory purred huskily into Sam's ear. "…a romantic dinner makes me the same way." She leaned in to kiss one bronzed cheek when…

…Sam whipped her head around to stare speechlessly at Cory with eyes that had gone wide with shock. Cory froze.

"Wh… wha… whe…" Sam stuttered for a moment, then tore out of Cory's embrace and quickly walked around the tank to stand by the couch on the other side. She didn't look at Cory. Neither of them spoke.

Finally Cory had come to the point where she just couldn't hold it in any more. She rounded the tank and approached Sam.

"What?" Cory asked quietly. "Did I go too fast? Did I misunderstand?" She sounded hurt, and Sam flinched hearing it. "Did I read the signs wrong?"

"Signs?" Sam managed with difficulty.

"Yeah… a fancy romantic dinner by candlelight… with wine… and you wearing what I know is your best dress-up outfit… Signs." Cory stopped a few steps away, still speaking in a hushed but hurting voice.

Sam blinked. It was true, she couldn't deny it… she just hadn't thought about why she had done certain things that way.

Sam sat down abruptly.

"God Sammy! I thought…" Cory rubbed at her eyes. "I'm sorry …no, that's not true. I'm not sorry for how I feel, but I do apologise. Obviously things…" Cory's voice broke for a moment. "weren't what I thought."

Sam still wouldn't look at her.

"I'm just being stupid, aren't I?" Cory sounded tired and slightly bitter. "I mean, it's been obvious for a long time, hasn't it? I try to show you that I love you and you pat me on the head. I try to tell you and you call me a goofball. If I flirt with you, you laugh it off. I thought you just didn't realize… although I guess I couldn't have been more obvious if I had your name tattooed on my forehead, so I guess it was just a polite way of saying you're not interested all along."

Cory sighed. "I apologise for making a mess and making things awkward like this." She sounded defeated. "I'll just… leave."

Cory made as if to go, finally breaking Sam out of her trance. "No! Please don't go."

"I-I…" Sam started tentatively, then tapered off. "I don't know what to say…" She sighed. "I didn't know." Sam turned and faced Cory, reaching out for her hand. Hesitantly Cory took Sam's hand and let Sam pull her down on the couch beside her.

"Why… when did you…" Sam sighed again. "Why now, Cory? We've been best friends for years."

Cory looked shy. "It isn't just now, Sammy… I've felt this way for a very long time. But there was always something in the way. Always… someone." Cory looked troubled.

"It took me time before I realized it, and I was with Jessie then. I thought I owed her to try and make things work out, but I couldn't pretend any more than she could. And by the time Jessie and I went our separate ways you were seeing…" Cory swallowed hard. "Rachel."

Cory looked at Sam earnestly. "You have no idea how much I've beaten myself up over that, Sammy. I introduced you to that, that… bitch."

Sam reached out and took Cory's hands into her own before speaking with some difficulty. "I know sweetie, but it wasn't your fault. You didn't know she was going to hurt me like she did. I didn't know either. It's past, and I'm not going to waste any more tears on her."

They sat in silence for a moment, still holding hands.

"Didn't you ever… think about it?" Cory asked shyly. "About us?"

To her surprise Sam blushed, before making a peculiar face.

"Oh Cory, I fell in love with you when we first met!" She exclaimed, then continued in a more hushed voice. "But you belonged to someone else, so I settled for being friends. It took me quite a while to …get over you… and feel something for someone other than you." Sam looked down. "And that was a disaster."

"And… now?" Cory's voice was trembling.

Sam looked up and met Cory's slightly shiny gaze with her own. She tried to speak for long moments, mouth opening a lips moving, but no sound came out. Cory waited a while, but finally leaned forward and put her fingers over Sam's mouth.

"Wait." Cory stopped Sam from saying anything. "I'll be right back." Sam watched bewildered and slightly chagrined as Cory left the couch and walked into the kitchen. She smiled shakily as she came back and walked over to crouch beside Sam.

"Here." Cory handed her something. Before Sam had the chance to see what it was, Cory spoke. "I want you to know that whatever you decide, I will never, ever hurt you, and if you let me, I'll do whatever I can to make you happy."

Sam shook slightly as she opened her palm. She blinked. She looked at Cory in surprise.

And burst out laughing.

"Y-you pour your heart out… get down on bended knee… make this solemn and very beautiful oath… to give me a slice of carrot?!"

"Well, it worked for Dash." Cory tried to sound as sombre as she could.

Sam held up the carrot. "You really are a goofball." She looked Cory in the eyes and took a bite of the carrot before tossing the rest over her shoulder. "But you're my goofball."

Then she flashed Cory a brilliant smile and pulled her in by her collar. "Now kiss me baby."

Over in the tank, two turtles were cheering.

Dash was triumphant that her advise had finally helped - see, hadn't she known all along that if Cory would only remember to feed Sam everything would work out just fine? - and their humans had finally gotten into a head nuzzle. Of course, it wasn't the first time Dash and Kiri had witnessed their humans nuzzling, and for some reason it didn't seem to get them any closer, so Dash and Kiri waited. The second head nuzzle was nice and long, and the third one went on so long that Sam and Cory disappeared from sight in the couch before breaking from it. Kiri declared it a success, and Dash, being convinced that Kiri was the absolute expert on nuzzles, agreed. Kiri was utterly charmed that Dash thought her head nuzzles were so spectacular, and suggested they go over to their nest and nuzzle some more. Dash, of course, was only to happy to agree.

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