To all students who won first place tickets at the Halloween event, the special movie screening has been rescheduled and will take place next Friday as we had to accommodate the change in the Culture Day festivities.
—A note on the bulletin board.
At breakfast, Murata spoke up. “I talked with my parents last night.”
“Oh?” Kato thought Murata looked a little depressed.
“Yeah. They said that Yuki has a new boyfriend.” Murata sighed.
“Your ex?” Kato asked.
“Sorry to hear that,” Kato replied sincerely.
“It was bound to happen. We can’t be together anymore.”
Kato suddenly wanted to know what that meant now for Murata and Nakamura, but he didn’t want to be rude and ask.
As if answering Kato’s unspoken question, Murata said, “I suppose that will make Nakamura-san happy.”
“But what about you?” Kato asked.
“Well, I like him a lot. I wouldn’t consider it cheating anymore. But I’m still not sure I even want to do it with a guy. It still seems weird.” Murata explained.
“I thought that too before I realized how much I really liked Takahashi-san. By that time, it wasn’t weird anymore. It was actually something I wanted to do,” Kato said. Then he blushed and spoke quietly, “And it was fun.”
Murata shook his head as he chuckled. “Really?”
“I suggest you just wait until you get to that point with Nakamura-san. Don’t rush it.” Kato smiled.
“Listen to you! I can’t believe that now I’m the one getting advice from Ren Kato.” Murata teased.
Kato simply shrugged. “It’s your advice. I’m just returning it to you.”
Both boys laughed as they continued eating their food. The other two regular boys exchanged glances at each other but never said a word.
When Kato returned to his room, Handa was there.
“We’re swapping tonight.” Handa said.
“Huh? With who?” Kato asked.
“You’re going to stay with your bitch and his roommate is coming here. You got a problem with that?” Handa was quite aggressive this morning.
“No, but damn, can’t you ask nicely for a change?” Kato asked.
“I’m not asking you. So, tell your bitch that you’re spending the night with him.” Handa said.
“Yeah, right. Then you’ll snitch me out like you did last time,” Kato barked. He suddenly realized that this probably wasn’t a great time to bring this up. It could be bad for his health.
“Listen, you idiot. If I snitched on you while Xan-san is here, I’d be snitching on myself. I really don’t give a fuck about you or Takahashi. In fact, I don’t give a fuck where you go but you are not staying here tonight.” Kato noticed that Handa used an honorific for Xan but didn’t even bother for Takahashi.
“Fine, fine. We’ll swap. No problem.” Kato said. He liked the idea of swapping, and it seemed Xan and Handa did too. That left one other person and Kato hoped it wouldn’t be too much trouble.
Kato didn’t get a chance to talk to Takahashi before music class started. He noticed that Takahashi didn’t sing. He wondered if Takahashi would even be ready before Sunday when he was supposed to be in the band. At break, he noticed Takahashi had his head down on the desk again with his arms over his head, just like yesterday. He leaned against the wall with his hands in his pockets, again.
“What?” Takahashi croaked.
“You sound worse.” Kato opined.
“Are you worse?” Kato asked.
“No, I feel better, but my voice is messed up from all the coughing.” Takahashi’s voice was very coarse and deep.
Kato simply stood there, watching his wolf.
Takahashi turned his head to the side and looked at Kato with one eye open. Then he groaned at the effort to get out of his seat and followed Kato to the bathroom.
Kato did his business. There were other boys in the bathroom, but they were all finishing up and leaving. Takahashi leaned against a wall with his eyes closed again.
“Wanna swap tonight?” Kato asked.
“No,” Takahashi said.
“Why not?” Kato whined.
“I don’t feel like it.” Takahashi said.
“Ah, come on!” Kato continued to whine. “I’ll come over, sleep on the top bunk with my wolf. I’ll be good. It will be like I’m not even there.”
“No.” Takahashi said.
Kato was getting angry. “Well, too fucking bad. I’m coming over anyways.”
Takahashi opened one eye and growled, “I believe I clearly said you won’t be.”
“I don’t get you. You spent three fucking weeks trying to get me to be your boyfriend and now you don’t want me around?” Kato exclaimed. “I finally care about you and you kick me to the curb? What the fuck?”
Takahashi closed his eye and started a coughing fit into the elbow of his shoulder. Kato felt a swell of pity and instantly regretted getting mad.
“Fine, I get it,” Kato grumbled. “The problem is Handa-san is kicking me out tonight so Xan-san can swap. I have nowhere else to go and Handa-san pretty much made it very clear to me to get lost.”
Takahashi sighed. He sat there for a few moments in silence then with a hint of anger, “Fine. Then why didn’t you say that in the first place?”
Kato was upset again and complained, “Really? Fucking really? It’s because I wanted to see if you actually wanted to swap with me or not, you ass. But it seems you would only swap with me when you’re being forced to.”
Takahashi complained, “I’m sick. I’m tired. Why can’t you just leave me be?”
“Because that’s not what ukes—what boyfriends do. You took care of me when I was sick. What the fuck is wrong with me taking care of you? Why are you always like this? Every time I try to do something for you, you go into wolf-mode.”
Takahashi had another coughing fit. “Oh my god, do we have to do this right now?” Takahashi sounded exasperated and worn out. “Just shut up about it and come over at nine. Damn.”
Kato was getting even more upset at Takahashi’s tone and lack of respect, but he got what he wanted so he decided to not push things further or he might be sleeping out in the cold or something tonight. Kato turned and walked out of the bathroom. He heard Takahashi follow behind as he was coughing still. Kato was a bit sad for Takahashi as it sounded like his illness was much worse than Kato’s was.
After morning classes and an uneventful lunch, Takahashi said that the coach benched him because he was sick, so he was going to stay in his room. Kato was bummed. He wanted to at least walk a bit with Takahashi.
“Wait up,” a voice came from behind. Kato looked and it was Xan again.
“Hello,” Kato greeted him.
“Hi,” Xan greeted back.
Kato looked behind and noticed that Handa was running toward them to catch up. Kato looked at Xan with a questioning look.
“It’s fine,” Xan smiled.
“Sorry I was running a little late,” Handa said to Xan. He glared at Kato but said nothing.
“Don’t worry about it. I was just walking with my new friend, Kato-san,” Xan said with an elegant flourish of his wrist and a smirk. Kato wondered at this and thought that there is much more to Xan than appearances suggest.
Kato decided to start walking and the other two kept pace.
“I want to thank you for swapping tonight, Kato-san,” Xan said.
“No problem.” Kato replied.
“Oh?” Xan looked at Handa then looked back. “That’s good then. Takahashi-san was fine with it then? I didn’t ask him since Handa-san said you would take care of it.”
Kato looked at Xan, who was smiling, then to Handa who was glaring. He wasn’t sure he really wanted to be right here with these two having this conversation. He felt trapped.
“He didn’t have a problem with it,” Kato lied.
They walked the rest of the way as Kato listened to Xan talk about all the strange observations that he’s made of St. Catherine’s so far, including some of the strange people he’s met. Kato realized that Xan had the gift of gab. He could talk about anything and make it entertaining. A few times he looked over at Handa who would smile and laugh at the little stories Xan told but Kato definitely felt like a third wheel. He was quite happy that neither of them had chosen ping pong so that he could part company with them. A sudden question popped into Kato’s mind. If they are friendly today, then that means they didn’t fight last night? What did they do? How did Handa get those bruises?
Kato was content to let Murata and Nakamura play singles today. He ended up playing more games with that nice seme from last week. He made sure not to send signals, flirt, or do anything else than to just have fun playing the game. The boy was super nice and even attractive, Kato admitted to himself. He let himself ponder for a minute at how things might have been if he had a different seme, a kind and thoughtful one like this boy he was playing against. Kato reminded himself that it was likely that it only could have been Takahashi that made Kato fall in love with him, to fall in love with a boy. Any other seme probably wouldn’t have succeeded. Takahashi was unique. He was special. And Kato knew it.
Kato skipped the second half of class and returned to his room. He spent the rest of the afternoon and evening making drawings of famous Japanese landmarks. He had a pretty good memory and could commit these images to paper fairly easy. He stopped for dinner then continued. Handa was in and out, taking only the briefest moment to look over Kato’s shoulder at the artwork. Kato honestly didn’t think it was anything all that great. All he could see were the flaws in his work and hoped that maybe people wouldn’t look too closely or even care too much.
When the time came for the swap, Kato took some supplies with him so that he could finish up the one he was working on and do one more before bed. That would give him six total illustrations all done in pencil. He really did like working with pencil. He wished this school had classes where he could be taught more, but he figured that maybe he would stop by the library and get some books to improve his technique. Besides being good with a dart and a pencil, the only other thing he was good at was pissing off a certain boy that he liked. He laughed to himself at that thought. He also made sure to grab his plushie wolf.