SP: Chapter 18. The 9 o’clock Swap

TO ALL STUDENTS,

For this year’s Halloween celebration, we will be opening building 8C and turn it into a haunted house. All repairs with regards to safety and suitability for this have been done.

No classes will be held on this day, but the Sports Complex will be open from 8:00 until 16:00 for any and all who wish to make use of it.

The requirement for wearing a school uniform will be suspended for this one day. You can wear street clothes if you wish. You are still expected to dress modestly: shirts, pants, and shoes are mandatory.

The chow hall will be open from 16:00 until 20:00. Dinner will be informal. Food will be buffet style, and there will be plenty of candy and drinks. We will also have games like bobbing for apples and other fun stuff.

Visits to the Haunted house for all who wish to go will be done in order by Grade Levels as follows:

21:00 — Grade 9

22:00 — Grade 10

23:00  — Grade 11

00:00 — Grade 12

Please note, showers will still be available for those who chosse to. After 20:00, please return to your wings except those assigned to visit the Haunted House.

Let’s make this year the best ever!

—Flyer announcing St. Catherine’s Halloween Celebration. [See end note.]

 

At dinner, Kato chose the same seat as the last two times. After a few minutes, Murata sat at the same table. Kato looked over to Takahashi’s table, nobody there yet. He looked at the line, Takahashi’s friends had their trays and were walking over to their table. Kato looked at Murata, who simply shrugged. Kato looked back at the line, but nobody was there. Kato wondered, just how many meals does this guy miss?

After dinner, he waited patiently for his turn for showers. Tachibana opened the door and entered and said, with a smile, “Hey, Sport. Your turn.”

Kato nodded then quickly added, “Okay.” This gave Tachibana a chuckle. Kato left the room and went to the showers. It was the same as the night before, a group of boys laughing and horse playing until he entered, and then everything became quiet. Why do they have to do that! Kato screamed in his head.

One boy came up to Kato and said, “Sorry to hear about your seme.”

Kato froze. “Huh?”

The boy explained, “Well, Handa-san was pitching, and he hit Takahashi-san with a wild pitch. They exchanged some nasty words then Takahashi-san charged the mound and they began fighting. We had to separate them.”

Kato was aghast. “What?”

“Yup, even though Handa-san is much taller, that Takahashi-san is scrappy. He held his own.”

“Is Takahashi-san okay?” Kato nervously inquired.

“Well, I didn’t see any bleeding, so I doubt either was really hurt. But that pitch probably hurt like hell.”

Kato was a little relieved to hear that. “Where is Takahashi-san now?”

“Probably still at the Sports Complex with Handa-san, thinking he should learn to control his temper.”

Kato didn’t appreciate the little jab* the boy took at Takahashi. He went over to the hooks. He hung his stuff up and undressed. He surreptitiously looked around, but nobody had even bothered looking his way. They were too busy talking and laughing about some dirty joke a boy told.

[*a slight, or insult]

The hot shower felt nice. He felt good for once. He took a little extra time in the shower. His body had burned a lot of energy today. He had fun with Murata and ping pong. Ah, Murata, he thought. I hope he can find a good seme. He’s so funny. Then he thought about Takahashi. Kato was pretty sure Handa deserved a good beating, but why did it have to be Takahashi? Couldn’t Takahashi have just walked it off? Is he always like this? Fighting everyone? And he thinks I need training? Kato remembered what Haneda said about training his seme. Of course, no way in hell Kato was going to use sex to do so. But he pondered if, somehow, he had the power to train his seme to be a better person, too. It was something worth considering later, though, as showers were about over.

—–

“Hey, Sport. Listen up.” This immediately grabbed Kato’s attention after he closed the door. “We’re gonna swap tonight.”

Kato replied, “Huh?”

From the bed, Tachibana replied, “Oh. Um, it’s called the 9 o’clock swap. There’s this old nun who sits out at the desk in the foyer. She gets a list of students and their pictures with their room assignments. I swear she makes a hobby out of memorizing that crap.”

“Pictures?” Kato asked.

Tachibana, for some reason, was short on patience tonight as he sarcastically asked, “Didn’t they take your photo during orientation?”

Kato nodded, and blurted out “Yes.”

Tachibana took a deep breath. “I’m glad you’re not my uke. You seem like a good kid, but damn.”

“Hey!” Kato instantly became angry. He spoke up, “Why do you have to insult me? How the fuck am I supposed to know all this shit? I’ve been in this hell hole for less than two days.”

Tachibana stood up off the bed and replied, “What the hell is your problem?”

Kato stopped and thought for a moment then looked at his feet. “I’m sorry,” he said with sincerity. “Been a long two days and my seme was missing again from dinner.”

Tachibana sighed, “Yeah, I saw the fight. If it went on longer, I think maybe Takahashi-san might have gotten the better of Handa-san.

Kato redirected the conversation, “So, about the swap?”

“Yeah.” Tachibana sat down and continued, “So, anyway, the old nun knows who is supposed to on each wing. There’s a stiff penalty if you leave the wing—except for an emergency or something—between 8:00 and 4:00. But at 9 o’clock, every damn night, she leaves her post.”

“Where does she go?” Kato couldn’t resist asking.

“Coffee? Tea? Pee? How the hell should I know? She just leaves for 10 minutes every night.”

Kato still couldn’t understand why Tachibana was so condescending this evening. But he tamped down his temper and tried to patiently listen.

“During the day, it’s not a problem to cross over to other wings and stuff. And, as his uke, you’ll probably be going to Takahashi-san’s room soon and help him clean or… something else… But travel between wings is strictly a no-go at night.” Kato was annoyed at what Tachibana obviously inferred to as “something else.” Tachibana lectured on. “So, at 9:00, when she leaves, we swap roommates; boys will leave one wing and swap places with others.”

Kato had a nervous feeling develop in his stomach. Tachibana must have noticed because he said, “Relax, Sport. You’re staying put. I’m swapping with my uke’s roommate. He’s an okay fella, another uke. So, you won’t have to worry about anything. Hell, maybe try to make a damned friend, eh?”

Kato felt a little better about this but was still irritated at Tachibana’s attitude. “Try to make a damned friend?” I have one: Murata.

“Long story short, at 9:00, I’ll swap. Got it?”

“Yes,” Kato replied.

“Good boy. And sorry about what I said a minute ago. I had an argument with my uke earlier and we’re swapping so we can take care of it.” Tachibana got up and started to leave the room.

“Where are you going?” Kato instantly regretted asking this dumb question. I gotta stop doing that, he chided himself.

“Seme game night, remember? See ya,” Tachibana said as he left the room.

Kato thought about the 9 o’clock Swap. He still had a ton more questions but figured he just needs to find someone else to ask. Both Takahashi and Tachibana are condescending, and Murata wouldn’t know since he’s new too. So, Kato chose to do some homework. He didn’t want to but he needed to catch up in that World Lit book.*

[* World Literature, but everyone just calls it World Lit for short]

—–

The time for the 9 o’clock Swap had come. Tachibana reiterated, “He’s an okay guy. He’ll just sleep on my bed tonight. The old nun only stays until 4:00 so we can swap back anytime after that. I’ll be back at 6:00. Good night.”

Kato returned, “Good night,” as Tachibana walked out the door. About 5 minutes later, there was a knock at the door. Kato got up and opened it and the boy bowed and introduced himself as Masamune Ōta*. He was a little taller than Kato, with dark brown hair and brown eyes. Kato introduced himself and motioned for Ōta to come in. They made some small talk about the weather, but Kato was just plain tired out. He climbed up on his bunk and wished Ōta a good night and went to sleep.

[lit. 太田 政宗, Ōta Masamune]

[End note: The Catholic church has always celebrated Halloween, originally as “All Hallows Eve.” It is also celebrated in Japan to this day. In fact, Japan has taken the holiday and added their own culture and unique flavor, making it a very popular day of the year.]

 


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