According to official records, student on student violence was exceptionally low at St. Catherine’s. Many attributed this to the unfortunate climate of secrecy that pervaded the school. Many theorize that the numbers would probably be much higher if it weren’t for the underreporting of such violence by the students, or interference of staff in filing such reports.
—Secrecy and Fear Pervades Local High School, anonymous blog post.
Kato woke up at 6 o’clock when the alarm starting blaring away. Thankfully Tachibana was quick on it and hit the button. Kato laid there for a bit while listening to Tachibana make noise getting up and ready. He thought for a bit, wondering when he might be able to spend some more time with Takahashi. He figured he wouldn’t get hardly a look during breakfast from Takahashi, probably wouldn’t speak during English class, hopefully they wouldn’t fight during break, then wouldn’t speak during World Literature, hardly ever see each other during lunch if Takahashi even bothered to go, no talking in Japanese class—
As Kato thought about each time that he wouldn’t get to see Takahashi, he got a little sadder. His heart lightened up a little, though, as he thought about walking out to the Sport’s Complex later, hoping that maybe they will get to at least do that together. Still, it would only be, at most, 15 minutes. He had forgot to check what he was scheduled to do on Tuesdays, but he was almost certain they wouldn’t be in the same class.
The more he thought about Takahashi, the more he questioned why he thought about Takahashi. It seemed strange that he would think about someone who is so difficult to get along with. But, when he thought of Murata, it just wasn’t the same. Sure, it would be fun to hang out with Murata and do stuff, but there was some elusive reason that Kato couldn’t fathom as to the difference between the two.
He looked at the clock and realized 15 minutes had passed. He decided to throw all his thoughts to the side and start his day.
As predicted, Takahashi simply met Kato’s eyes only once during breakfast. Kato felt a small sense of rejection and this, too, was unfathomable.
“Murata-san,” Kato suddenly spoke up. “Where were you yesterday? You weren’t here.”
“Oh. Nakamura-san invited me for a meal in his room. It was pleasant. He’s a real good cook.”
“Cook? How?” Kato was surprised.
“He has a slow-cooker. He made a pork curry.”
He looked over at Takahashi then back.
Murata started laughing.
“What?” Kato asked.
“I’m sure your hubby will cook for you soon too.”
“Pfft.” Kato replied.
Sister Mary had the class split up into six smaller groups today. Each row was a group, so that put Kato with Takahashi. He was a little concerned because that put Murata in Handa’s group. She gave each group some speaking exercises. Kato hated spoken English even more than written English. It was hard to think in English, as Sister Mary put it.
Each group of students pulled their desks into separate circles. Sister Mary had them start out with introductions. Kato could at least do this. He was surprised at how well Takahashi spoke. Then again, Kato thought, he can sing English songs. He wondered if he could help Takahashi with other lessons in exchange for lessons in English. A tutor would be very helpful.
After introductions, Sister Mary read aloud, in English of course, a passage from a book. She had her students in each group relate to each other what they thought of the passage, in English of course. This was super difficult for Kato. He understood most of what she read but how to put his own words into English was daunting. Even Takahashi had a little trouble though he clearly was the best one in their group.
Much to his disgust, Kato learned that Handa was excellent in English. Sister Mary had him stand up and explain what she had read, and she praised him. This made Takahashi blurt out some phrase in English that he didn’t understand. Sister Mary yelled, “Takahashi-san! Get up here.”
Takahashi rose with as he grumbled “yariman”* and went to the front of the class. Kato was shocked to hear that word.
[* やりまん, yariman, (yah-ree-mahn), meaning slut, but much, much more highly offensive ]
Sister Mary turned red hot and bellowed “Takahashi-san! Turn around!”
He turned around faced the exit of the classroom, standing straight. She reeled back and struck him hard across the back and yelled, “That’s for cursing in English.” Then she hit him a second time, probably harder, yelling, “That’s for cursing in Japanese.”
This prompted him to say another word in English that Kato didn’t know. If he thought Sister Mary was hot, he was mistaken. She was livid, again yelling out his name, “Takahashi-san!” and struck him hard again.
Kato cringed, knowing that Takahashi was still probably bruised from the other day. What made Takahashi says such disrespectful things, he could only wonder.
But Takahashi wasn’t done! He again said another word Kato didn’t understand. Sister Mary bellowed, “That’s enough!” as she reeled back, striking with full force. As the blow struck, Takahashi let out a low grunt of pain and staggered forward.
Kato’s heart leapt to his throat. He jumped out of his chair and pleaded, “Ken-san! Stop it! Please!”
Takahashi looked over at Kato. There were tears in Kato’s eyes, though they had not yet fallen. Then Takahashi looked back the classroom door, straightening up. He didn’t say another word.
“You are dismissed from morning classes, Takahashi-san. Report to the infirmary. Leave. Now!”
Takahashi looked over to Kato, “Will you bring my stuff to my room?” Then he left the classroom.
Kato simply couldn’t believe what he just witnessed. He was always taught to utterly respect his instructors, as any student should. Some murmuring erupted from the students and Sister Mary smacked her rod against the desk. All students stopped.
“Handa-san, please ignore Takahashi-san’s vulgarity.” He simply nodded. “Everyone, let’s get our seats back in rows again. We are about out of time.”
Kato collected Takahashi’s stuff and set both of their desks back in the line.
At break, he went to the restroom. He made sure Handa was not following him. Kato went to a urinal as other students entered. They started talking about Takahashi and Sister Mary.
“What did he say to Handa-san?” one boy eagerly asked.
“He called him a ‘kiss-ass,’ vulgar slang in English.”
Another boy asked, “What’s that mean?”
“A gomasuri,* because Handa-san sucks up to the teacher,” the boy replied.
[* 胡麻磨り/ごますり, gomasuri (goh-mah-soo-ree), sycophant; flatterer; brown-noser]
“What was the other word?”
“What was the last word he said?”
“I suppose manko* would be a good translation.”
[*まんこ, manko (mahn-koh), a vagina, highly offensive]
Kato couldn’t believe Takahashi knew these words, let alone he would dare say them to an instructor. Why does he hate her so much? he wondered.
As he finished up his business, Handa-san walked into the room. The boys saw him and decided to leave the bathroom. Kato looked and saw that he was alone. Fuck me, he thought.
Handa started walking Kato’s way with a grin. “Hi, shorty.”*
[lit. ちびたん, chibi-tan (chee-bee-tahn), shorty, but in a mocking way]
“Go away,” Kato barked. He didn’t appreciate being called short. “You know I belong to Takahashi-san.”
Kato backed up to the wall as Handa drew close. “He’s not here. It’s just us now. Wanna have a little fun?” Handa ran his finger down Kato’s cheek before Kato batted it away.
“Give up on Takahashi-kun. I see how you two argue all the time. I won’t fight with you.” Handa slyly replied. “Come on, a quickie. Nobody has to know. We still have a few minutes before class.” Handa reached down for Kato’s groin.
“No!” Kato barked. He pushed Handa back a little, but he was like a wall. There was no way he could deal with someone this size.
The door of the one of the bathroom stalls flew open with a bang and out shot a snarling wolf. Takahashi dove with all his might at Handa in a huge tackle. Both boys flew and Handa smacked his head on the sink on the way down. Takahashi who landed on top, grabbed Handa’s shirt while pulling him up, and with pure rage in his eyes, reeled back a fist ready to strike. Kato ran and grabbed Takahashi’s arm, preventing him from striking.
“Ken-san! Stop!” Kato yelled as he pulled against Takahashi.
“Get the fuck off me!” Takahashi yelled.
Kato let go of Takahashi’s arm and wrapped his arms around Takahashi’s abdomen and pulled him awkwardly off of Handa, who was laying there unconscious. Both sat on the floor with Kato’s face buried in Takahashi’s back.
“Fucking ow! You’re hurting me! Let me go! This fucker deserves to die!” Takahashi bellowed.
Kato held on for dear life. “No, Ken-san. Stop, please!” he pleaded, as tears started to wet the back of Takahashi’s shirt. Kato was really beginning to hate this bathroom.
Takahashi sat breathing hard, and Kato could feel him shaking. Kato eased up a little, but his arms were still wrapped around Takahashi’s stomach. He could hear Takahashi’s ragged breathing and his heart pumping furiously.
Takahashi, with anger, asked, “Why do you keep saving him?”
Kato sobbed a little, “I’m not trying to save him. I’m trying to save you.”
Takahashi was silent for a few moments. The he flatly stated, “I don’t want to be saved.”
They both sat there for another minute, then Takahashi growled, “Let go and get back to class.”
“No,” Kato whined.
“I won’t hurt Handa-san but you need to get the fuck back to class. So, let go, dammit.”
Kato sniffled but he let go.
“Now get up and go back. When Handa-san comes to, I’ll make sure he gets to the infirmary. I have to go there anyways.”
Kato got up and looked down at Takahashi sitting on the floor. He went to the sink and washed his face while Takahashi attempted to revive Handa.
He walked out of the bathroom with a heavy heart and walked back to class.
Nobody seemed to know what transpired in the bathroom this time. World Lit went along without a hitch. Kato’s mind was elsewhere. He questioned himself. Did I do the right thing? I’m pretty sure I did, but am I making myself Takahashi’s enemy? I keep hurting him. How much more will he put up with before he thinks I’m no longer worth it? These thoughts were starting to depress Kato. He stared at the same page in that book for the whole class. He concluded that he was never going to catch up in this class.
Takahashi was not there for lunch. Kato wasn’t hungry either.
“Damn, Kato. You alright? You’ve hardly touched your food. You’ve been doing that a lot lately,” Murata asked.
“I don’t feel like eating. You want some?”
“No, you need to eat, Kato. Please try.” Murata tried to be supportive.
Kato looked at his food and poked at it and sighed.
“I’ve been thinking,” Murata continued. “Maybe you should not date Takahashi-san. You can decline to be his uke. There are other semes available.”
Kato glared at Murata. “No.”
Murata smiled with a shrug, “Okay, okay. But if you don’t get along, why keep trying?”
Kato couldn’t figure out why Murata talked before as if him and Takahashi were practically married and now he’s trying to tell him to give up. “I just don’t wanna,” Kato replied. He didn’t understand the reason, but he knew he didn’t want to give up.
“I see,” was all that Murata said. Kato poked at his food. Then he decided to just shovel it in because he knew he needed his strength for afternoon classes.