Despite the school’s best intentions to create a classless society among the student body, the simple fact remained that many students had financial resources, and many did not.
Attempts were made to ensure that all students were treated fairly with some basic wants met. For example, the concessions at the theater where all students got free popcorn and soda was implemented. Those who had the means could purchase other concessions. Also, the commissary: students were allowed to select from a small list of basic items, such as hygiene, whereas the students with the funds could purchase from a wide array of items. Some thought this was unfair, but every school, public or private, does this.
In an effort to help those less fortunate students, and the fact that St. Catherine’s was such a large estate, there were chore assignments that students could sign up for that the could earn funds for themselves. Of course, this helped the school as they did not have to pay prevailing wage or any other associated costs with hiring outside contractors or extensive maintenance crews. It also helped the students learn life skills and how to manage their resources.
Interestingly, as horrific as many thought seme/uke was, in the vast majority of the cases, the couple would learn to work together to care for each other; one or both may work, or have outside resources, or both could be poor and still find a way to obtain what they could and share what little they had. It’s these small interactions among the students that restores one’s faith in humanity again.
—Anonymous article about equality among the student body of St. Catherine’s
“Hey,” Tachibana said.
“Good morning,” Kato responded. He began to put some stuff away.
“How’d it go?”
“We did not have sex,” Kato stated.
“Disappointed?” Tachibana snickered.
“Shut up,” Kato replied.
Tachibana snickered some more at the response. “Ok, see ya later,” he said as he left the room.
Kato went down to the bathroom to clean up a little.
The morning boys were quiet as usual, but one exclaimed, “Kato-san’s back!”
Kato felt all eyes on him. What the hell? he thought.
Higashihara came over and put his arm around Kato’s shoulder. “So? What was it like spending the night with the infamous Kensuke Takahashi?” He grinned.
Another boy spoke up, “Did he make you do it?” Kato didn’t like the emphasis implied on the two last words.
“No, no. We did not have sex.” Kato wanted to set the record straight.
A different boy asked, “You turned him down?”
Kato looked at him. “No. He never offered.”
Higashihara asked, “So, does that mean you wouldn’t have turned him down if he did?”
Kato was getting irritated and embarrassed at these questions. “No. I don’t like him like that.”
The other boys started asking other questions but Higashihara interrupted them, “Okay, okay, boys. That’s enough. Leave the poor boy alone.” He squeezed Kato a little and said, “I’m just happy you survived.”
Kato didn’t know what else to say but, “Thanks.”
All the boys went back to their business and Kato to his. He was glad Higashihara had some respect in him to have ended the barrage of questions.
He went back to the room and changed into his suit and left for breakfast. It was buffet-style again. Kato really liked this. He piled food onto a tray and went to sit down. Takahashi was already there. Kato wondered at this. Last Saturday he was here earlier but every other day he is always last. Takahashi’s classmates weren’t present yet. He looked lonely eating there and Kato wished he could sit with him. He simply smiled at Takahashi, who smiled back, then sat at his table to eat alone, for nobody had arrived yet.
After a few minutes, Murata sat down. They exchanged pleasant greetings.
“So, how’d it go?” Murata asked eagerly.
Kato thought about it for a moment and admitted, “It actually was quite fun.”
“Oh, yeah? What’d you guys do?”
“He made tonkatsu and we ate good.”
“Yeah, I’m jealous. Everyone could smell that from his room.” Murata chuckled.
“Then he played his guitar for a while and then we played cards.”
“Nice.” Murata smiled. “Hey, what are you doing today?”
“Well, I told Takahashi-san that I’d go swimming with him. After that, I have no plans.”
“I spoke to Nakamura-san about hanging out with you today. He mentioned doing some Aikido and we wanted to know if you and Takahashi-san wanted to join us. We also talked about lunch.”
Kato’s ears perked up at the offer of free food. “I can ask him if he wants to go,” Kato replied. He got up and went over to Takahashi. “Um,” he started.
Takahashi looked up. “Yes?”
“Do you have any plans after we swim?”
“Not particularly. Why?”
“Wanna hang out with Murata-san and Nakamura-san? They offered lunch and to teach me some Aikido.”
Takahashi thought for a moment and replied, “Ok, but not all day. I want to hang out with just you for part of it, at least.”
“Okay.” Kato went back to his seat and told Murata that they’re in.
“Great, I’ll let him know.” Murata smiled.
The four boys met outside the dorm at 8 o’clock and started the long walk. The weather looked like it was going to be very pleasant today with a cloudless sky. Kato was passed a heavy bag, and another was passed to Takahashi. They walked four abreast, the ukes on the inside, the semes on the outside.
“What’s this?” Kato pointed to the guitar bag Takahashi had strapped around his shoulder.
“A guitar,” Takahashi replied with a cheeky grin.
“I know that! I mean, you’re bringing an electric guitar out here? What about an amp?”
Takahashi replied, “It’s my roommate’s acoustic.”
Takahashi simply shook his head and smiled.
“How’s your ankle,” Kato asked.
“It aches a little this morning but once it gets warmed up it will be fine.”
Murata smiled at Kato and stifled a small laugh.
“What?” Kato looked at him.
“Hey, how many times have you swapped?” Kato asked Murata.
“Three times already,” Murata replied.
“What?” Kato exclaimed.
“What’s wrong with that?” Murata asked.
Kato’s mind was about to explode with questions about what they were doing during these swaps, but there was no way in hell he was going to be so bold as to ask them.
Murata chuckled at Kato. He leaned over and whispered into Kato’s ear, “I can read your mind. We’ll talk about it later.”
Kato felt embarrassed and wondered why Murata would think that he was even remotely interested in hearing such details.
“So,” Murata started. “The plan is that we meet out in the field today at 10 for some basic Aikido, then lunch at 11, and then there are no plans after that.”
Nakamura looked at Murata and spoke, “I’ll think of something.”
Takahashi looked at Kato and said, “Me too.”
Kato wasn’t sure what that was about, but he concluded that he was just along for the ride today. It seemed everything had been, or will be, decided for him. He suddenly missed his childhood days of autonomy.
The rest of the journey, Murata chatted about a complicated card game that Nakamura was teaching him. It was way over Kato’s head, but he politely followed along in the conversation.
The couples went their separate ways. Murata mentioned that him and Nakamura were going to do some running at the track and other stuff. Kato was glad that he was swimming this morning. He preferred that over running.
Kato and Takahashi opened their lockers and started to change. Kato was conflicted. He didn’t want to make Takahashi uncomfortable in the least. They spent the night in their boxers playing cards. He felt that he was a bit more comfortable but now they were going to get naked next to each other again. He didn’t understand why he was feeling bashful this morning.
Takahashi faced his side to Kato and started to remove his boxers. Kato quickly turned to his side and started to do the same. He did not look this time.
After putting on their swim trunks, Takahashi said, “Let’s go.”
The boys swam many laps before Takahashi growled in pain. Kato swam over as Takahashi was treading water. “What’s wrong?”
“My ankle aches.” Takahashi snarled.
“Well, let’s go sit down on the steps,” Kato said. Takahashi agreed and they swam over and sat on the steps, sitting up higher than last time. The water only came up to Kato’s belly button. Kato needed a breather anyways.
Takahashi lifted his foot and crossed it over his other knee and started massaging it. Kato felt a little pity for him. He scooched right next to Takahashi and boldly grabbed his leg. He was gentle, yet firm.
“What are you doing?” Takahashi barked.
“Let me see it.” Kato barked back. He placed Takahashi’s calf on top of his own two knees and looked at Takahashi’s ankle. “It’s swollen! What the hell are you doing?” Kato was irritated.
“I know it’s swollen. So what? It’ll be fine.”
“Yeah! After your stupid foot falls off. Why can’t you ever take care of yourself?” Kato bitched.
“I do!” Takahashi protested.
“Pfft.” Kato responded. He didn’t know a lot about such things, but he started to massage the ankle a bit.
“Fucking ouch,” Takahashi snarled.
“Yeah, well you shouldn’t overwork your ankle.”
Takahashi tried to take his leg back, but Kato refused to let go. “Stop it. Let me massage it for a bit. Maybe it will help,” Kato said.
Takahashi angrily sighed. “Do you even know what you’re doing?”
“Teach me then,” Kato remarked.
“Fine, fine.” Takahashi talked Kato through how to properly massage the ankle.
Afterwards, Takahashi said he had enough swimming as his ankle still ached. They went back to the locker room to shower off and change.
As Kato pulled off his boxers, Takahashi said, “Kato-san,” causing him to look over. Takahashi was completely naked. Kato quickly looked away and started to turn red. “Yes?” he asked.
Takahashi sighed. “First, don’t be afraid to look. I give you permission to. It makes me feel terrible when I think that you’re afraid of me, like I’m going to hurt you.”
“I’m not afraid.” Kato lied. He felt that this must be a trap or something.
“Don’t lie. I hate it when you do that,” Takahashi warned. Then he softened his voice and said, “If you’re not afraid, then look at me.”
Kato turned his head. He met Takahashi’s eyes. “Fine, maybe a little afraid,” Kato admitted.
“Don’t be. I trust that you won’t hurt me even when I’m most vulnerable, which would probably be right at this moment.” Takahashi cheeks were a rosy tint.
Kato suddenly felt bashful with Takahashi looking at him. He covered himself up with his hands.
Takahashi smirked. “Also, dude. I’ve already seen yours. It’s not like you’re doing anything by trying to hide it now.” He laughed.
Kato turned two more shades redder, but he reluctantly lowered his hands.
Takahashi smiled. “The second thing, I would like your help wrapping my ankle. I’ll teach you how so that someday if you have such an injury, at least you know how to take care of it.
Kato let out a stifled laugh. “More like learn how to bandage you up in case I have to do it again.”
Takahashi scratched the back of his head. “Yeah, yeah.”
Both boys finished dressing and Takahashi took out a bandage and demonstrated to Kato how to wrap his ankle. Kato wondered how long it would take for such an injury to heal.
They still had 30 minutes before they had to meet up with the other two, so they grabbed their bags and leisurely walked over to the field where they would take their Aikido lessons.