While the dorms and the school are relatively new structures and built to modern codes, the drafty old monastery needed considerable winterizing each year. There was always plenty of help, from students who were assigned work details because of misbehaving, or students who were compensated for their time.
—Winters at St. Catherine’s
Kato returned to class. He entered to room and saw Handa look over with that self-confident smirk of his. Kato simply look away. As he walked to his seat, he made momentary eye contact with Takahashi, then he looked down and sat in his seat. He was feeling guilty and sad for bringing all these troubles on Takahashi, Aizawa, and Tachibana.
The class was currently doing bookwork and Kato just stared at his blankly. When the chime rang, he decided to go to the bathroom.
When he returned, Takahashi was sitting here at his desk with head down. He was the only student still in the classroom. Kato went up and stood by him, leaning against the wall.
Takahashi must have sensed this because he looked up.
“Sorry,” Kato offered.
Takahashi sat up. “It’s not your fault. You were sick. I would change nothing. Except maybe beat the fuck out of Handa-san first so he couldn’t talk.” He was showing his teeth.
“And if you had done that,” Kato barked, “You wouldn’t have been there to take care of me in the first place!”
Takahashi harrumphed. “Well, it doesn’t matter now. But he made two more enemies this morning.”
“Aizawa-san and Tachibana-san.”
Takahashi sighed. “Well, they were never friends with him anyways. But, like the rest, they just sat by while I took on Handa-san alone. I seriously doubt they are my allies now but as the saying goes, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.'”
“Tachibana doesn’t speak badly of you,” Kato said.
“Listen, Kato-san. He likes you. You like me. So, of course, he’s going to help you, which in a way helps me. Get it?”
Kato got lost for a moment as he had to think that over. Then he nodded, “Yeah, I think so.”
“At any rate, I think it’s not long before the semes finally deal with Handa-san.”
“Don’t,” Kato spoke quietly.
“Don’t what?” Takahashi asked.
“If you fight him then they’ll take you away from me and put you in segregation,” Kato softly complained.
Takahashi said, with annoyance in his voice, “I will not back out and let the other semes fight my battles.”
Kato grew hot. “But why is it your fight? Why can’t you let that shit go?”
Takahashi glared with a glint of anger and said, “I’m so fucking tired of repeating myself. I’ll say it one last time. I will protect my uke.”
“Fuck off, Takahashi-san. This isn’t about protecting me. This is all about you, so don’t lie to me.”
Takahashi stood up out of his desk and his eyes darkened. He snarled. “I will break Handa-san. I will fuck him up so badly that he will never bother me again.”
“See! You just said it!” Kato barked. He suddenly remembered the lecture from World Lit. He exclaimed, “It’s just like Moby-Dick! You are fucking Ahab!”
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“He hurt you and you want revenge, and it will cost you everything to get it,” Kato complained loudly.
“Like what? What the fuck do I have that’s worth a goddamn thing?”
“Me, you ass!” Kato turned and walked back out of the classroom. He had enough of it. He went to the water fountain and stood there, fuming. He couldn’t understand why Takahashi didn’t see it. If they got into a fight, what would Kato do for a month while Takahashi rotted in segregation? Kato suddenly cooled off and became very sad as he contemplated that last thought. A whole month without his best friend seemed like an eternity.
Kato noticed the students filing in and it was time for class again. He drank some water and returned. He didn’t even bother to look at Takahashi. He simply was not in a good mood. Another fucked up morning at St. Catherine’s, he thought. He still was battling fatigue as he had not fully recovered. Perhaps that explained some of his irritability.
At lunch, Kato wasn’t feeling well and wanted to just sleep. Instead of going to the chow hall, he went back to the infirmary. He was again made to wait for a while. He told them about the fever, and they took his vitals and sent him back to his room with more meds and told him to stay home.
Kato stripped to his boxers and crawled in his bed and pulled the covers over his head. He fell asleep. He was woken up when Tachibana came back from lunch, but he fell asleep again and never heard him leave.
He woke up about two hours later. He felt better but still weak. He ate some fruit, and some medication and decided to read more of Moby-Dick with renewed interest. He hoped maybe he could learn something to help Takahashi.
Tachibana came back in after 4 pm. “You’re up.” He greeted.
“Yeah, still get tired easily,” Kato said.
Tachibana smiled then sat down on his bunk.
“I’m sorry about what happened this morning.”
“Don’t worry about it, Kato-san. It’s not about you, it’s about Handa-san,” Tachibana explained.
“Are you going to fight him?” Kato meekly asked.
“It doesn’t concern you. Stay out of it,” Tachibana replied firmly.
Kato stayed silent. Tachibana’s tone clearly meant that this was not open for discussion. He wondered to himself at what was going to happened.
At dinner, Murata spoke up, “Why did they call you to the headmaster’s office?”
“Oh.” Kato paused. He didn’t realize Murata didn’t know. “We got in trouble for swapping.”
“Really? Wow.” Murata started to look at Kato’s body closely. “You okay?”
“I didn’t get caned,” Kato said. “I got 8 hours of work detail this Saturday.”
“Oh, that sucks. Guess we won’t get to hang out then.”
“Well, there’s still the movie,” Kato offered. “I’m sure Takahashi-san will want to go to that.”
“I heard you yelling at him again,” Murata confessed.
“What the fuck, Murata? Do you just sit outside the door hoping to hear something juicy?”
Murata cowed a little. “No. You just always choose a public place to argue. I was coming down the hall and heard you yelling at him.”
Kato crossed his arms. “Well, I was right. The way he’s going, he may not even make it to movie night or the next month of them. And I’m not fucking being a third wheel with you and Nakamura-san. No thanks.”
Murata got angry, “You’re just as fucking self-centered as he is. It’s no wonder you two don’t get along.”
“What are you talking about?” Kato became annoying at the thought that he’s the bad guy again.
“It’s not about who’s right or wrong. Why can’t you be supportive of your seme?”
“So, what the hell you want me to do? Cheer him on as he beats the fuck out of Handa-san then gets taken away from me? Or worse, he gets the fuck beat out of him and still ends up in segregation?”
“I didn’t say that.”
Kato threw up his hands. “Then what are you saying?”
Murata angrily huffed. “Stop treating him like a child. Don’t you realize you talk down to him? You’re condescending. And calling him Ahab wasn’t nice.”
“It’s true though!” Kato argued.
“It still wasn’t nice, or supportive,” Murata pointed out.
“So, what? I just wanted him to understand how I feel,” Kato said.
Murata laughed bitterly. “Again, all about you.”
Kato had nothing further to say about it, so he just glared at Murata.
“And, what is more,” Murata continued, “nowhere in that argument did I hear you tell him how you feel.”
This elicited a response from Kato. “What do you mean?”
“The last thing you said is that if he fought with Handa-san, you’d leave him.”
“That’s not what I said!” Kato exclaimed. “I said he’d lose me.”
“What’s the difference?” Murata asked. “Does he know? No. Why? Because you were too damn busy being self-centered and proud of yourself that you know what Moby-Dick is about.”
“I don’t wanna talk to you anymore,” Kato said.
“Fine. I’m sure you weren’t listening anyways,” Murata replied.
The other two boys who always sit at the table silently ate their food without ever looking up.
Kato returned to his room, still upset. He waited for his turn in the showers, and then came back. He wondered why he was always the bad guy. It seemed like everything always turned out to be his fault. How am I not being supportive? Kato thought. I’m trying to keep him from getting into pointless fights and going to segregation. That’s not supportive?
Kato decided to get up on his bunk and read for a while. He just didn’t want to think about anything else today.