The library at St. Catherine’s is immense. Simply the sheer volume of religious texts dwarf anything on the local level. And it doesn’t stop there. Being a school, there are copious volumes dedicated to the curriculum as well as to a wide range of scholastic pursuits. On top of all that, a very healthy inventory of other books related to fiction, non-fiction, language studies, classical literature, historical, and it goes on and on. One estimate put the number at just around 4 million volumes with new ones added weekly.
—The St. Catherine’s Library
“We still have some time left, what do you want to do?” Takahashi inquired.
Kato was silent, thinking.
“If I had to guess, you’re trying to figure out some way to tell me you want to play ping pong with Murata-san.”
“Wrong!” Kato blurted out.
“Yes. Wrong. I want to play ping pong with you.” Kato smiled.
Takahashi chuckled. “I see. I’m not that good, by the way.”
Kato grinned widely. This was kind of surprising to him. He figured Takahashi was the god of sports or something. He has a weakness! Kato gleefully thought. “So, what? Let’s go!” he exclaimed, grabbing some of their bags and pulling Takahashi along with his free arm.
They put their stuff down and checked out some paddles. Takahashi was not joking when he said he wasn’t that good. This tickled Kato, but he wanted to have fun and not beat down Takahashi. Kato was a good sport.
And fun is exactly what Kato and Takahashi had. Kato didn’t fancy himself as witty or funny, but around Takahashi, he did his best to keep him smiling and laughing. It was so infectious. He went easy on Takahashi and just enjoyed playing. In fact, strangely enough, he even enjoyed this so much more than any game he played with Murata. It’s not that he didn’t thoroughly love the thrill of battle with Murata, but it was altogether more fun with Takahashi.
Kato could have wished that this moment, this afternoon, well, this whole day didn’t have to come to and end, but it had to end. The chime signaled the imminent closure of the Sports Complex. Takahashi and Kato put their paddles away and grabbed their bags and started to make the long journey back to the monastery.
On the way, Takahashi again broke the silence first. “What are your plans this evening?”
First, Kato chided himself that Takahashi was first to speak. He was going to have to work on that. Secondly, he’d never spent a Saturday night here. He didn’t know what there was to do. Sleep, maybe? “I don’t even know why you bother to ask, Takahashi-san. What do you have planned?”
Takahashi laughed, “I’ve got you trained.”
Kato pushed Takahashi while blushing, “Nuh uh,” he playfully retorted.
Takahashi smiled. “Let’s go to the movies.”
Kato stopped. “Huh? We can leave to see movies?”
Takahashi softly chuckled, “No. I wish. They’d probably never see me again if they allowed that.”
“Building 12 is a movie theater, well converted into one. We can go and watch a movie.”
Kato was interested. “What’s showing?”
Takahashi replied in a snooty, mocking way, “Well, whatever they think meets the school’s criteria for cultural or educational relevance.”
“Sounds boring,” Kato surmised with a grin.
Takahashi grinned. “They have free popcorn and soda.”
Kato’s ears twitched. “Yeah?”
Takahashi laughed. “I knew that would interest you.”
Kato simply smiled. “So, you don’t know what’s playing?”
“Yup, the original Godzilla. The 1954 edition.”
“Interesting.” Kato thought for a moment. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it.”
“Well, then you have no excuse to turn me down,” Takahashi said with a self-confident smirk.
“Why does this sound like a date or something?”
“I’ll let you hold my hand if you get scared.” Takahashi started laughing.
“Oh, shut up!” Kato blushed and started walking fast.
“Ha ha I was just kidding! You are so easy!” Takahashi yelled while laughing and trying to catch up to Kato.
Even with a super big breakfast and a large lunch, the days activities burned up all that food and Kato was quite hungry for dinner. The headmaster was back, which didn’t necessarily please Kato, but since he never really caused problems, the headmaster could be safely ignored.
Murata sat down with a smile and a greeting. Kato smiled back and was relieved that he wasn’t as glum as earlier.
“Where were you during lunch?”
“Oh, um—” Kato didn’t know how to say that he went on a picnic with another boy. He blushed a little. “Takahashi-san brought some food to eat outside so we didn’t have to bother walking back for lunch.”
“Oh, that’s smart. I didn’t even think of that. Well, not like I have any food to do that with.”
“Perhaps next time, we can invite you along.”
“Ok, I’ll ask Nakamura-san.”
Kato looked at Murata, wondering why he would need to ask permission. “So, how’s it going between you two?”
“Well, apparently nothing like how it’s going between you and Takahashi-san.” Murata snickered.
“Eh?” Kato blushed even though he didn’t know why. “What do you mean?”
“Oh my god. Sleeping in his lap?” Murata asked with a big, evil grin.
Kato blushed harder. His mouth was dry. He didn’t know what to say, besides “Uh—”
Murata laughed. “Did his chinchin* poke you in the head while you slept?”
[* Japanese slang, ちんちん ]
Kato smacked Murata on the arm. “What the fuck you are talking about!” Kato was thoroughly embarrassed at the situation.
Murata laughed even harder. Kato could only sit there glaring at him. Murata wiped the tears of laughter from his eyes, “Sorry. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.”
Kato shook his head, “I was tired, that’s all. The bleachers were hard.”
Murata choked out, “I’m sure that wasn’t all that was hard.” He started laughing anew.
Kato was still blushing, “Are you done having fun with me?”
After a moment, Murata calmed down and breathed. “Yes, yes, sorry. Ha ha.”
In an attempt to change the subject to anything but this, he asked, “Seriously though, you and Nakamura-san?”
Murata smiled, “Well, we just hung out today and played ball. It was nice. I felt no pressure from him. He’s so quiet though. But when he speaks, his words are powerful and full of meaning.”
“Interesting,” Kato replied.
“Yeah, I found out he is trained in Aikido. He was showing me some simple ways, that with practice, I could defend myself. He said he felt it important to be able to defend myself and discourage the attacker from continuing his course, but at the same time not hurt the attacker.”*
[* Aikido is a Japanese martial art focusing on defending while still protecting an attacker from injury.]
Kato remembered what Takahashi said about this. Maybe Nakamura knows more than just Aikido, he considered.
“I wonder if he would consider teaching me a few tricks too.”
“Ya know what? I’ll ask him. But I might point out, you should talk to your seme about this.”
Kato was annoyed at this. “Why?”
Murata chuckled. “You’ve never dated anyone before, huh?”
Kato blushed. “What do you mean?” He didn’t like what Murata was implying.
“I mean, you should be considerate of Takahashi-san’s feelings.”
Kato leaned over and whispered, “I am not dating Takahashi-san!” For some reason, he did not want Takahashi to overhear that.
Murata smirked. “Oh yeah? By now, I’d imagine the only one who thinks that is you.”
Kato blushed again. He quickly figured if he blushed any more today, it might become permanent. “Well, whatever,” he huffed. “What do you mean about being considerate?”
“If you spend a bunch of time with another seme, or worse, another uke’s seme, how would that look to Takahashi-san?”
Kato thought for a moment. “The wolf would probably be pissed.”
“See? Now you’re thinking.”
“But,” Kato exclaimed, “we’re not—” Kato lowered his voice, “dating.”
“You are dense, my friend. Let me ask you then, how would you feel if I spent a bunch of time with Takahashi-san and you stayed home and read your Math books.” Murata had a self-confident smirk that Kato didn’t like.
“I don’t think he would like to spend that much time with you.”
Murata gave a small, quick laugh. “Now you’re just dodging the question.”
Kato fiddled with his food, not knowing what to say.
With a serious tone, Murata asked again, “How would that make you feel? Not to be special to Takahashi-san anymore? To have someone else be his uke?”
Kato let out a small sigh, “I wouldn’t.”
“Right. It’s the same with Takahashi-san. How would he feel if you suddenly started treating another seme as more special than him?”
Kato quietly said, “Sad.”
“And rejected, most likely. It doesn’t matter if you’re dating or not; whatever you want to call it. Right now, you’re important to him. You need to start taking his feelings into consideration.”
“We’re not dating,” Kato reiterated.
Murata chuckled, “Sure. And when you finally realize you are, I’ll still be here to support you.”
Kato gave up. He didn’t want to say anything more about the subject. “What are you doing tonight?”
Murata grinned, “I’m going on a movie date with Nakamura-san.”
Kato rolled his eyes.
“You going with Takahashi-san?”
“Do I have a choice?” Kato replied.
Murata started laughing, “Wanna make it a double date?”
“Will you stop that?” Kato glared, then paused. “Wait, are you dating Nakamura-san?”
Murata simply smiled. “Dense. Man, you are dense.”
Kato replied with irritation, “Yes or no?”
Murata put chin in his hands and looked at Kato. “Don’t you realize what seme/uke is?”
“What?” Kato inquired.
“It’s not much different than dating.”
“Wait a minute. You told me you were a virgin. What gives?”
Murata smiled back, “I never had sex, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never dated before.”
“Yeah, a while back I had a girlfriend for a year. Both our parents were super strict, and she was super religious so there was no fooling around at all. But I did gain experience in dating.”
“Wow,” Kato thought aloud.
“Yeah. I’m not saying seme/uke is only about dating, but I’ve kind of been watching other semes and ukes, the good ones, how they interact, it’s very much like dating.”
“And you’re fine, dating a dude?”
Murata blushed a little with a chuckle. “Well, it wasn’t my first option. But I gave it some thought after what you said. Maybe I can accept Nakamura-san, even if he wants to have sex with me. It’s kind of flattering, even though at the same time super perverted. I’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
Kato didn’t know what to think of all that. He wasn’t sure he wanted to take the credit, or the blame, for putting any such ideas into Murata’s head. He also had to admit that he never dated anyone, but he was not ready to accept that he was doing anything of the sort with Takahashi.