There was a nominal Student Council at St. Catherine’s. Unfortunately, under the current administration, staff didn’t actually care what the students had to say and felt that they should not be organized. Would things have been different, or maybe better, if the students had a voice? It’s hard to say. It was many years later before there was a change of administration that brought an ear to the voices of the oppressed.
After lunch, Kato had taken Takahashi’s stuff to his room and handed it to his roommate, then he went to class.
He couldn’t concentrate during Japanese class. He kept thinking about that empty desk behind him. He really wondered if Takahashi was alright. He was also bothered by what Takahashi had said. I don’t want to be saved. What did he mean by that? Kato wondered.
After class finished, he took his stuff back to his room and then headed out to the Sports Complex. After a minute, he heard running footsteps. He turned to look and saw Takahashi jogging up to him. Kato’s tiny little heart skipped a beat.
“Wait up!” Takahashi exclaimed.
Kato smiled. “What took you so long?”
Takahashi was panting slightly. “Well, you know. The usual.”
Takahashi grinned, “Yeah, almost on a first name basis with the infirmary staff.”
Kato playfully smacked Takahashi on the arm, “Idiot.”*
[* 馬鹿, ばか, or バカ, (bah-kah), fool or idiot]
Takahashi chuckled. The boys started walking.
“Man, I’ve been worried about you all day. You okay?”
Takahashi smiled, “I’m fine.”
“Oh?” Kato questioned. “How’s your back?”
“Well, they gave me some ointment for it. The bruises will probably look nasty for a week, but it will heal in two.”
Kato grabbed Takahashi by the arm, stopping him. “Why did you keep insulting Sister Mary?” Kato desperately asked.
“She’s a bitch. I hate her. End of story.” Takahashi shrugged off Kato’s hand and started walking again.
Kato figured he had better not ask then, if that was his reaction. He caught back up to Takahashi and kept pace. He looked at Takahashi, then looked down at the ground as he walked.
“What is it? Spit it out. I can hear the wheels turning in your head,” Takahashi spoke.
“Um, what happened to Handa-san?”
Takahashi sighed. “I knew you’d bring that up, sooner or later.” He sighed again. “Well, when he finally came to, he was ready to fight. I told him to calm down, he hit his head on the sink and could have a concussion. I was able to get him to stand up, with some help, and we made a temporary truce. He’s recovering at the infirmary.”
“You two didn’t get in trouble?” Kato was surprised.
“Handa-san told him that the floor was wet, and he slipped and hit the sink. I just happened to be there to help him.”
“Were you waiting in the bathroom for me?” Kato stupidly asked.
“No. I needed to take a shit.” Takahashi shook his head.
“Oh,” Kato replied.
“Well, it was probably a good thing too. If I hadn’t been there—”
“I can take care of myself,” Kato interrupted with a bark.
“Kato.” Takahashi sighed. “It’s not that I don’t think you could, but I don’t think you should.”
“What?” he asked. That sounded dubious to Kato. He was starting to become annoyed.
“Handa-san would eat you for lunch.” Takahashi flatly retorted.
“I could learn Aikido. Murata-san said Nakamura-san would be willing to teach me.”
Takahashi stopped for a moment. He looked at Kato. “If that’s what you really want, then do it.”
Kato thought he could sense some disappointment in Takahashi’s voice. Kato really didn’t want to spend time arguing with Takahashi after he just got him back. He had been looking forward to this 15-minute walk and didn’t want to squander it. So, he swallowed his pride and said, “Well, I don’t want to do it right now, but maybe it’s a good idea. You can’t always be there to protect me.”
Takahashi sighed. “Maybe you’re right. Today was a good example of that. If I had gone straight to the infirmary, things could have been different.” He continued walking.
They walked for a minute then Takahashi spoke up again, “Kato-san.”
“Hmm?” Kato replied.
“I know you don’t approve of me fighting. But it’s all I know how to do.”
“Nuh uh! You can sing, you know English, you can play ball, you can swim, you’re amazing, Takahashi-san!”
“Everything but ping pong, eh?” Both boys laughed.
Takahashi continued, “Well, anyway, maybe I bought some time for you to learn a few tricks from Nakamura-san. I think Handa-san might stay away from us for a little while.”
“I hope so.” Kato admitted.
After a minute, Takahashi spoke up, “Did you look at the schedule for today?”
“Nah, I forgot when we left yesterday.”
“Well, we have swim class together today.”
“I see.” Kato replied. He had forgotten the swim trunks that Takahashi had gave him back in his room.
Takahashi looked over and began to chuckle. “I have an extra pair of swim trunks and a towel in my locker.”
“Sweet!” Kato was relieved.
“Gotta take care of—”
“—my uke,” Kato finished.
Takahashi smiled, taking his hand and ruffling Kato’s hair. This simple act made Kato happy. Ever since yesterday, his heart had felt frigid, but now it felt like it was all warmed up again. Kato was also happy to see that Takahashi’s lip was on the mend. That stellar smile was reappearing.
Kato thought about saying something more, but he decided that if they spent the rest of the few moments together walking in peace, he would be just as happy.