Apple bobbing, also known as bobbing for apples and many other terms, is an old game dating back to when the Romans invaded Britain and their customs and celebrations were merged.
Each year, unmarried people would try to bite into the floating apples, and the first one to bite into the apple would be the next to be married.
—Things People Do for Love by Dr. Harvey Eppendorf
As the boys walked back, Kato spent a minute thinking about that shower. It was like a war raging between his mind and his body, and he feared his mind was losing somehow. No matter what he did to shore up the defenses, his body was breaking through. He would think about Takahashi at odd times, and images of Takahashi’s body at even weirder times. He felt his body reacting to that shower scene.
“Ken-san,” Kato started up.
Kato looked to the ground and shyly asked, “Can I wash you next time?”
“No.” Takahashi stated bluntly.
Kato looked up. “What?” he exclaimed. “That’s not fair! You got to!”
Takahashi stopped. He looked at Kato who had crossed his arms. “Ren-san. I’m in love with you. I would trade almost everything I own for what you just offered.”
“Then what’s the problem?” Kato didn’t get it.
“I’m in love with you.”
Kato growled. “How is that a problem?” he emphasized.
Takahashi got hot for some reason and barked out, “It would be fucking torture, that’s how!”
“Torture? Me touching you is fucking torture?” Kato yelled back.
Takahashi shed a single, angry tear. He started ranting, “You just don’t get it. It’s already hard enough being with you. You want to hold hands, but want me not to touch you, but then you want me to touch you when we sleep together, but not touch you because it might turn you on. Then we shower together, and you allow me to touch you and you get a hard-on when I touch you, but then I have to shut off my heart because I love you too much to take advantage of you. I almost fucking lost control of myself back there. A few minutes ago, I pretty much wanted to jump off a fucking building to my death to save me the pain of wanting you so bad!”
Kato just stood there, speechless.
“I love the fuck out of you, Ren. But you can’t do this for me. It really would be torture.”
Takahashi turned away as he wiped that one tear off his cheek.
Kato had no idea that Takahashi felt this way. He didn’t know what to do. So, he did what he always did when Takahashi was in pain, he stood next to Takahashi and leaned his head on him. He sniffled as a couple tears fell from his eyes. “Don’t be mad at me, please Ken. I didn’t mean to hurt you. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.”
Takahashi put an arm around Kato and squeezed. “I know, I know. I don’t know what I’m doing either. This is a lot harder than I expected.”
“What is?” Kato asked.
“Huh?” Kato didn’t know that word.
Kato sniffled some more.
“Come on, let’s get back. Food will be waiting for us,” Takahashi said.
Kato felt awful about himself because he was causing Takahashi so much pain. He looked back at all the times that he did the things Takahashi complained about. It’s true, only the first time did Takahashi want to hold hands, it was Kato that offered every time since. Kato was the one that wanted Takahashi to sleep next to him, keep rubbing his belly. Kato was the one that wanted to play with Takahashi’s happy trail. That whole scene in the shower just now that Kato allowed. He’s been inadvertently hurting Takahashi for a long while now, it seems.
Kato grabbed Takahashi’s hand with his hands and held it. He looked up into Takahashi’s eyes. “Ken, I don’t know how to get to where you want me to be, but I do feel like I have to try. I just need more time.” Kato had absolutely no idea how long it would take or how long Takahashi was willing to hold on.
Takahashi’s voice was laced with sadness. “Well, I think I’ve demonstrated my patience and endurance. And I mean what I said, you don’t have to love me back or have sex with me, but we really do need to cut back on the intimacy. It’s tearing my heart to pieces.”
“What do you mean?” Kato didn’t like the sound of this.
“I mean we should stop swapping for a while.”
Kato really didn’t like the sound of that. “But why?”
“I love you, that’s why.” Takahashi was a bit harsh when he said that.
Kato wanted to pout. He just didn’t understand why everything had to be so damn complicated.
Kato let go of Takahashi’s hand and started walking with his head down. Takahashi kept pace at his side.
When they got to the dorm, Takahashi spoke up. “Look, let’s just forget it all for one night and have fun. I really would like to have a nice Halloween with you.”
“This another date?” Kato asked.
“Yeah, our fourth, if I’m counting correctly.” Takahashi smirked.
Kato snorted, “The most dates I’ve ever been on with anyone and it’s a boy.”
Takahashi laughed. “Lucky you.”
Kato simply smacked Takahashi in the arm.
“I guess we have dropped the honorifics. You okay with that?” Takahashi asked.
[ “-san” is an honorific, a polite and respectful way to address someone]
“Fine by me,” Kato replied.
“We can wear our street clothes tonight,” Takahashi said. “Go change and meet me at the chow all.”
“Alright.” Kato said.
He went to his room and thought about wearing the shirt that Takahashi got him but decided against it. He liked wearing that shirt when he did swaps with Takahashi. He became sad suddenly as he considered that he probably wouldn’t be wearing that shirt much anymore.
He ended up choosing his gray polo shirt that he liked and his blue jeans. He then went to the chow hall.
Takahashi was waiting there. He was wearing a black shirt with a large white band logo on the front and a pair of blue jeans. Kato could admit that he liked Takahashi’s casual look.
The chow hall had practically no tables in it except those laden with food. The rest was a madhouse of boys and there were different games and booths offering fun and entertainment of all sorts.
Takahashi grabbed Kato’s hand. “Follow me, I want something first, then you can do whatever.”
Kato had no choice as he was pulled along behind Takahashi. They went over to a spot with a boy taking pictures. There was someone already having their picture taken, so they had to wait.
“A picture? You want a picture, with me?” Kato asked.
“Yes. Just how you are right now, as a memento.” Takahashi smiled.
“You act like I’m dying.” Kato huffed.
“It is Halloween,” Takahashi playfully smirked.
Kato simply shook his head at that corny remark.
When it was their turn, Takahashi grabbed Kato’s hand again and pulled him over to the white screen. The boy said, “Strike a pose.”
Takahashi took Kato and turned him to one side, then he put his back against Kato. “Act casual, Ren.” Takahashi put his hands in his pockets, so Kato did the same.
“Smile,” the boy said. He snapped the picture. “It will print in a minute. Step to the side for the next person in line.”
Takahashi and Kato stepped to the side and waited. Kato looked around. There was music, noise, and lots of fun. He suddenly became infected and wanted to do stuff.
Takahashi took the picture, showed it to Kato, then took an envelope from the stack and carefully placed it inside. You’d think it was some kind of national treasure they way he treats it, Kato snidely thought.
[ * See the cover picture of this book ]
“One more request,” Takahashi smiled.
“Wait, I thought the picture was your only request then I get to choose.” Kato complained.
“I lied.” Takahashi reached down and grabbed Kato’s hand and dragged him over to the Bobbing for Apple booth.
Kato had never actually done this. It was explained that it was a competition. There were a dozen tubs with a bunch of apples each. Takahashi and Ken were assigned to Tub #9. They had to fish out the floating apples with their mouths and they could not use their hands, or they were disqualified. The contest was 2 minutes, and at the end of the evening, a pair of winners would be announced.
Kato removed his glasses. He was sure this was going to be a wet activity. He stood next to Takahashi and leaned over the tub with his hands behind his back and Takahashi did the same. They looked at each other and Takahashi flashed Kato that winning smile. Kato looked down and when the buzzer when off he tried to grab an apple. This was a lot harder than he imagined. It kept bouncing down under the water or floating away.
Takahashi was laughing his ass off trying to catch one and Kato couldn’t help but laugh too. Kato was getting water up his nose. They quickly worked out a system where Takahashi would nudge and apple over to Kato and they would both turn to face each other, dunking half their head into the water, while each put equal pressure on each side of the apple and bite. They lifted the apple out together and dropped it on the floor and repeated. They pulled out 12 apples before the buzzer rang.
They were drenched. Kato wasn’t sure if that’s the way you were supposed to do it or not, or if 12 was even a good number, but he was laughing and snorting out water and didn’t care. Takahashi took his towel and dried off Kato’s hair and then dried his.
The attendant smiled and remarked, “That was definitely a unique way to do it. The scores will be announced later. They handed their towels back.
“Happy now?” Kato asked.
“Yes, very. Now what do you want to do?”
“Food,” Kato said. “I’m starving.”
Takahashi grabbed Kato’s hand again and pulled him as they weaved through the crowds. I could have followed you easy enough, Kato internally grumbled. Don’t have to hold my hand and drag me.
Kato put all of his favorites on a tray, but there was nowhere to sit and eat. Takahashi got his plate then nodded to the door. Kato followed him outside and then Takahashi sat on the floor with his back against the wall and motioned Kato to sit. So, the both ate heartily.
“Ren,” Takahashi said in a meek voice.
“Oh my god, what do you want to do now?”
Takahashi stood up and offered his hand to Kato. “What about the trays?” Kato asked.
“Leave them. Got one more thing I want to do.”
“But—” Kato started but was interrupted.
“Please?” Takahashi flashed that sparkly smile that was Kato’s weakness. He sincerely hoped Takahashi wasn’t catching on to that or he’d be done for.
Kato grabbed the offered hand and Takahashi pulled him up and then dragged him back into the room through the crowd to a face painting booth. “What?” Kato asked. “That’s embarrassing!”
“Just do it for me, please, Ren. I seriously won’t ask for another thing all night. I swear.” Takahashi made a sign with his hand that Kato was sure he once saw from an American TV Show called Star Trek.
“Fine.” Kato grumbled. “But you first.”
“Okay!” Takahashi exclaimed. Kato was amazed at how excited Takahashi was. It was like he was six, not sixteen.
“I want to be a wolf,” Takahashi eagerly replied to the attendant’s question.
Kato watched as the attendant painted Takahashi’s nose, and added whiskers, and other paints. Then he was given a pair of ears on a band to put on his head that completed the disguise. Kato realized that Takahashi actually made a really cute wolf.
“Can you make him a rabbit?” Takahashi asked.
“What?” Kato exclaimed. “That would look stupid on me!”
“Rennnnnnn,” Takahashi drawled out his name as he pleaded.
Kato harrumphed. “Fine. But you get nothing more all night.”
“Okay,” Takahashi agreed.
Kato subjected himself to this utter humiliation as the painter gave him a pink nose and whiskers and other paints. Then he was given a pair of bunny ears to wear. As he was considering not wearing them, he looked over at his wolf who was eagerly waiting. Kato swallowed his pride, what little there was left anymore, and donned the ears.
“Kawaii!” Takahashi blurted out.
[* 可愛い or かわいい (kah-wye-ee), a term to describe something or someone as cute, adorable, charming, etc]
“Hey, don’t call me names!” Kato smacked Takahashi’s arm.
Takahashi flashed that smile and laughed.