Katie: “Sensei. Is black a shade or a color?”
Sensei: “Well, it depends on who you ask. Scientists say it’s the absence of color, but artists say it is a color.”
Katie: “Yeah, but I’m asking you.”
Sensei: “I’m neither a scientist nor an artist. You’ll have to ask one of them.”
—Science or Art?
Takahashi set up lunch, putting the food on paper plates, with napkins. He poured some soda for them. They sat across from each other with the food between them. They both clapped their hands together and exclaimed in unison, “Itadakimasu!”*
[* A Japanese custom with no direct translation, but closest is “Thank you for my food.”]
Food always made Kato feel happy. This meal with Takahashi was turning out much more comfortable and enjoyable that he anticipated.
“Favorite color?” Takahashi asked.
“That’s not a color!* And so, cliché! All boys say that!” Takahashi laughed while complaining.
[* A joke. See the epigraph for this chapter. ]
“Ha, ha, ha. I don’t care. I like black.” Kato snidely replied.
“I dunno. Ever seen the sheen of the sun reflect off the fur of a black cat?”
Takahashi stared back with a blank face.
“Or maybe admired a brand-new black car, all washed and polished up, the whole thing set off with the sun glinting off the chrome?”
“Deep,” Takahashi mockingly chuckled.
Kato glared back. “I’m not a writer or a poet. I can’t explain these things.”
Takahashi smiled, “I’m teasing you. I understand.”
“What’s yours?” Kato was now curious.
“A very deep and rich sky blue.”
“Yeah, I’m not talking about the light sky blue. I’m talking about the deep pure blue you see about mid-day when you look into a cloudless summer sky. I feel sometimes that it is endless, and I wish I could escape there.”
“Yeah.” Takahashi sighed.
They ate for a while in peace. Kato would periodically look over at Takahashi. He wasn’t really sure what to make out off all of this. He knew he felt warm, well-fed, and safe right at this moment, but was pretty sure, like any other time, his momentary happiness just would never last.
“Takahashi-san…” Kato started.
“Um. May I ask what happened to your last uke?”
“Bit of a long story there.” Takahashi slowly replied.
“Oh? If you don’t want to talk about it, you don’t have to.”
“No, it’s not that. I suppose being my current uke, you have a right to know.” Kato’s heart felt a little troubled with the word “current,” as if it meant “just now” and that it was inevitable that he would be cast aside soon.
Takahashi looked at Kato, then looked away into the distance. “To start, my most recent uke wasn’t actually an uke.”
“Nah, he was a seme who forced himself upon another uke. I didn’t have an uke at the time. It isn’t right to steal someone else’s uke, so I was not going to defend the uke and declare to all that I was taking an uke from another seme. Instead, I decided to make an uke out of that fucking piece of shit seme.”
Kato was silent, intently paying attention but didn’t want to interrupt a thing.
“Most of the other semes understood what I was trying to do and didn’t get in the way. Some other semes were quite pissed that I got involved. I kind of made more enemies out of it than just that stupid seme.”
Takahashi quietly fiddled with a napkin for a moment, then continued. “I subdued that seme. I beat him pretty badly. I was so angry. I told him he will be my uke now. It lasted for about 2 weeks before he suddenly disappeared from class. After that, I was suspended from classes and taken to segregation for two weeks.”
“Yeah, a building with my own room, a bible, and not much else. My instructors would come by daily and give me homework. It sucked. It was pretty lonely. I think I would have preferred a good caning.” Takahashi snickered a bit at that last thought.
“Sounds awful,” Kato replied sympathetically.
Takahashi looked up at Kato. “Worst part is not having my guitar or any of my music with me. So, I just sang acapella.”
Kato simply smiled.
Takahashi frowned a bit. “He wasn’t my last uke though. That didn’t really count.”
“My last actual uke was the one before that. He was a nice kid. I met him playing ball. He was a good player. I was in-between ukes at the moment and he was in-between semes. We played a lot of ball together. He was funny, witty, outgoing, and as tall as I am. I was surprised he wasn’t a seme, but he really just wanted to be an uke and have someone to take care of him. So, I said I would be his seme, thus we made it official. I was his seme for about a month.”
“Well, one morning I wanted to go swimming, like I do every Saturday morning. I invited him along. When we got undressed—” Takahashi paused for a moment. “He was staring at me. Just, staring. I told him to look elsewhere and put my swim trunks on and left the locker room and got into the pool.”
Kato felt instant guilt and shame. He looked down at the grass, trying to feign interest in a particular blade of grass.
“Well, he acted like nothing happened. We swam for a long time. We laughed, and we joked. I felt like I was wearing a fake mask though. I was really put off by this whole thing. When we returned to the locker room, we both showered off and then went over to the locker to change.” Takahashi again stopped.
Kato looked at Takahashi and noticed a sadness in them.
After a full minute, Takahashi began again, “I turned with my back to him and took off my shorts. He came from behind, spooned up to me and reached around me and grabbed my dick.”
Kato’s jaw dropped.
“I spun around and smashed my fist into his face. He fell, and I jumped on top of him and punched him a few more times. I was unbelievably angry.”
Kato couldn’t believe the hurt he saw on Takahashi’s face and noticed a tear slide down. “Takahashi-san, sounds like he deserved that. He shouldn’t have done that to you.”
“Yeah, but you don’t understand. I beat up my uke!” Takahashi bellowed out in pain. He put his hands over his face and was deathly silent.
Kato wanted to touch Takahashi, but he didn’t want to get hurt by this wounded wolf. “I don’t understand what that means.”
“Seme/uke means I’m supposed to defend and protect my uke! But, I didn’t!” Takahashi-san shouted. A few more tears rolled down Takahashi’s cheeks. He wiped them away with the backs of his hands. He looked down at yelled at the ground, “I beat up my own goddamned uke!”
Kato took a chance. He got up, moved over, and sat down, shoulder-to-shoulder, with Takahashi. He somewhat leaned a little into Takahashi, looking out upon the field. “Takahashi-san. There is still a lot that I don’t know about seme/uke, but I think I’m beginning to understand some things.”
“Oh?” Takahashi sniffled a little. Kato thought it was kind of cute.
“Yeah, I think the minute he did that to you, he stopped being your uke.”
Takahashi was silent for a couple of minutes. Kato hoped he hadn’t said the wrong thing. He turned and looked up at Takahashi’s face. For some reason, Kato felt a little closer to Takahashi, his seme, his wolf.
“I suppose you are right. I hadn’t thought of it that way.” Takahashi quietly observed. “Unfortunately, I got dressed and ran out of there. He was unconscious. Some other kids found him and contacted staff. He lied to them and said I tried to rape him and, when he refused, I beat him up.”
Kato rested his head against Takahashi’s shoulder. He was quite sad, and somewhat emotionally spent from this story, and didn’t want to hear anymore, but he wanted Takahashi to get it all out.
“I spent a month in segregation. My parents came to see me. It was the only time they had come to see me since I had first gotten there. My dad was furious. He yelled and screamed that he had paid a ton of money to silence the victim’s family and the school so that this would all be quietly swept under the rug. He said he could not afford such a scandal becoming public and ruining his good name. My mother all but disowned me to my face. I pretty much figured that would be the last time I ever saw them.”
Kato could almost feel the pain through the thin clothing that separated him from Takahashi. But he kept still and listened.
“I also earned a very bad reputation among the students here. There was no way I was going to find an uke after that. Nothing I said mattered. My ex-uke and the kids who found him blabbed their lies all around school. I was attacked by some other semes who thought I was nothing more than some rapist. I won some fights, lost some fights, but never cowered or ran away.”
Takahashi took a deep breath. Kato could hear this, and, almost imperceptibly, Takahashi’s heartbeat. “A month later, he was transferred, probably to a better school. No doubt because of the new money that they now had. I was still stuck here. I wish I could have been expelled. I might have even enjoyed living on the streets better than this place.”
Another sigh, from Takahashi, before he continued. “I won back some cred with the some of the semes when I took that other seme and made him my uke. But some thought that I was a hypocrite, just doing it to take the light off of me.”
“But,” Kato spoke softly, “you were doing it to protect that uke because you knew what he was going through.”
“Yeah. I couldn’t sit by and watch that happen.”
“In a way, Takahashi-san, you were the strongest of all the semes.”
“You stepped up and did what nobody else would do.”
“I suppose so. Still, it didn’t do a whole lot for me. The fighting stopped, for the most part. Some semes still wanted to make me their uke, the main one being, Handa-san.”
“Well, that explains the bad blood,” Kato remarked.
“Yeah, he was one of the semes who felt I was a hypocrite. He took sides with the seme I went after. Handa has no compunction whatsoever with forcing an uke to submit. So, we’ve been fighting for a while now.”
Takahashi put his arm around Kato and sighed, “And that’s where you come into this.” Kato felt a little awkward, leaning against Takahashi with his arm around him, but at the same time, he felt close to Takahashi, as both have been through so much together, much of it being similar experiences.
“How so?” Kato inquired.
“I still needed an uke. No uke in this school would even consider me. My only hope was a new student. By luck, it ended up being you.”
Luck? Kato was about to make a snide comment, but he chose to stay silent.
“Handa-san wanted me to be his uke. I refused. We fought. I found an uke. He thinks I shouldn’t have one. So, he wants to take you away from me. He wants it so badly I can feel the hate exude from him.”
“Well, he can fuck off,” Kato blurted out. “I’m not going anywhere. And the least of all, into his pervy arms.”
Takahashi started laughing softly. “I like that about you. You have spunk.”
Kato slapped Takahashi on the leg. “Whatever. Let’s clean up and go find something to do.”
“Okay,” Takahashi agreed.