“What are you doing here?”
“I work here, remember?” came the reply.
Haruki Tachibana sat there on the bed in his single room in segregation. The room was bare, save for the Bible on the desk and a poster of some saint on the wall. He watched as Ryō Haneda approached with a small tray of medical supplies.
“You look awful,” Haneda remarked.
“I feel it,” Tachibana said. He had many bruises, scrapes, a cut lip, and his right eye was swollen shut.
Haneda put his tray down on the desk and sat beside Tachibana, looking close at his face. “Looks like you lost,” he said.
“Pfft. You come here to harass me?” Tachibana asked.
“No. I came here to tend to your wounds.”
“Why you? Isn’t there somebody else?” Tachibana asked.
“Because I love you, dummy,” Haneda said. He reached to a cotton ball and put some alcohol on it and touched it to a bruise on Tachibana’s face.
“Ouch!” Tachibana said as he recoiled and bat Haneda’s hand away.
Haneda smiled. “You big baby. Come on, it can’t hurt that bad.” He grabbed Tachibana and pulled him close, patting the cotton ball against the bruise, causing Tachibana to wince in pain.
“I arranged the shift so I could tend you first. I thought it might be easier for you if I was here.”
“Yeah, but we broke up. And not in a nice way either,” Tachibana said.
Haneda put down the cotton ball on the tray then looked back at Tachibana. He gently touched Tachibana’s swollen lip. “I’m sorry I fell in love with you,” he said gently.
“I’m sorry you did too,” Tachibana replied.
“Don’t be a fucking jerk,” Haneda said as he flicked Tachibana’s lip with his finger, causing Tachibana to reel back in pain.
“OW! Fuck! Stop that shit! I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Oh yeah, how did you mean it?”
Tachibana sat up straight again, with his hand hovering over his mouth that was in excruciating pain and his eyebrows bunched up. “I meant that I’m sorry you had to fall in love with a guy like me.”
Haneda picked up a cotton swab and put some ointment on it and started gently applying it to the bruise he had cleaned. “Haruki, we’ve been friends for so long, known each other for so long. I know you still love me.”
Tachibana furrowed his brows as his cheek felt like it was on fire. It took his mind off his lip. Haneda started to work on another bruise and a silence developed between them that lasted a few minutes.
Finally, Haneda broke the silence as he started to apply some ointment to the cut on Tachibana’s lip. “You still haven’t told me the real reason you wanted to break up with me.”
Tachibana grabbed Haneda’s wrist gently and pulled it away. “Do you remember the first time we had sex?”
Haneda put down the swab and look into Tachibana’s eyes. “Yes,” he replied.
“You changed after that.”
“Huh? How so?”
Tachibana looked away then down. “You got super, fucking needy and jealous.”
“What?” Haneda asked incredulously.
Tachibana looked again into Haneda’s eyes. “Ryō, after that, it was like you owned me. I couldn’t go anywhere or do a fucking thing without you there. And when I did, you would get all pissy.”
Haneda frowned. “No, it was you who kept trying to exclude me. What? Were you fucking embarrassed to be around me? Embarrassed we had sex? Did you regret it? How about the 50 other times we fucked after the first time?”
Tachibana threw his hands in the air. “I didn’t appreciate the whole goddamn school knowing that we were fucking each other. Why did you have to do that?”
Haneda crossed his arms as he said, “Well, excuse the hell out of me for being happily in love and letting others know about it. I was also trying to ward off some fucking predatory ukes in the process.”
Tachibana looked away and was silent for a half a minute. He heard Haneda fiddle with something on the tray. “Look. I felt like I got lost in you. I wanted my freedom back; to be me again.”
Haneda let out a long sigh. He reached over and took Tachibana’s chin in his hand and turned his face towards him. “Haruki, I love you. And you love me. We both made mistakes. Can’t we work this out?”
Tachibana closed his good eye. He really was a sorry sight, but Haneda loved him no less because of it. “Maybe,” Tachibana admitted.
Haneda pulled him close and placed a very gentle kiss on Tachibana’s lip, then pulled away. Tachibana opened his eye and met Haneda’s. “I still need a seme, and if the predatory ukes haven’t tied you down yet, you need an uke.”
Tachibana chuckled a bit. “I’m sure the semes are scared of you as well as the ukes.”
Haneda grinned then grabbed the cotton swab and started applying ointment to Tachibana’s lip, causing him to wince in pain again.
“Owwwwww,” Tachibana complained. “I think I liked the kiss better.”
—Excerpt from “My Seme, My Lover, My Friend” by Ryō Haneda, used with permission.
Nothing got accomplished at dinner regarding the two ukes, so Kato figured he’d next talk to the ukes during showers.
“Kato-san!” one of the boys exclaimed as Kato entered the bathroom.
“Hey,” Kato replied. The atmosphere was light as the boys were horse playing and joking as usual.
“I heard Tachibana-san’s back,” Kikizaki said.
“Oh? Really?” Kato asked. He felt a sudden burst of happiness at this news.
“I heard that too,” Asano said. “They put him on B-Wing with another uke.”
“What about his old one?” Masaki asked.
“Haneda-kun? I heard they still aren’t talking,” said Higashihara.
“Too bad. They made a cute couple,” Masaki said.
“Guys,” Kato interrupted.
The boys all looked at Kato. “What’s up?” Higashihara asked.
“The two ukes, on B-Wing. Matsuoka-san and Ikeda-san,” Kato said.
“What about them?” Sengoku asked, with arms crossed and irritation in his voice.
Kato remembered the last time he brought up the subject and it wasn’t exactly received favorably, but he still had to try. He looked down at the floor and quietly said, “I heard that the semes are going to try again.”
Sengoku snorted. “Told ya they need semes.” Kato looked up at Sengoku.
“It’s not time for that now, Sengoku-kun,” Higashihara said. He turned to Kato. “Do you know when?”
Kato looked to Higashihara and shook his head, then blurted out, “No.”
“Well, most we can do right now is just warn them. We’ll let the ukes on B-Wing know about it,” Higashihara said.
“Yeah, let them deal with it. We have our own ukes to worry about,” Masaki commented. Higashihara gave Masaki a glare but didn’t say anything, causing Masaki to shrug in return.
The boys went back to joking and playing and Kato went to the hooks to strip and take a shower. It wasn’t quite the “call to arms” response he was hoping for, and it wasn’t quite the negative response that he was dreading. He didn’t know what else he could do.
Kato was already waiting in the game room when Xan came in with Handa, saying, “Murata-san said the pizza gave him a tummy ache and Nakamura-san is taking care of him. So, they bailed on us. It’ll be us and Handa-san tonight.” Xan sat down at the table with Handa sitting next to him.
Fuck! Kato thought to himself. I’m stuck playing cards alone with these two? If Murata doesn’t die from that pizza, I’ll kill him myself.
“Let’s play 3-way Hearts,” Xan said, as he grabbed a deck of cards from a neighboring table.
“That won’t be necessary,” came a familiar voice from behind Kato. His back was facing the door and his heart jumped in relief as the voice of his wolf met his ears.
Kato turned around in his seat. “I thought you said you weren’t coming tonight.”
“Me too,” Handa said.
Takahashi glanced at Handa. “Well, too fucking bad. I’m here now. Deal me in,” Takahashi said in his wolf mode voice.
Kato smiled up as he scooted his chair over, letting Takahashi sit beside him. This put him Xan to his right, Takahashi to his left, and Handa across the table.
Xan shuffled the deck with a practiced flair. “So, five card stud. Nothing Wild. And the sky’s the limit,” said Xan with a smile.
“What? I thought we were playing Hearts,” Kato said.
“He’s teasing us,” Handa remarked.
Xan chuckled softly. “Cut for me,” he said handing the deck to Handa. Thus, the game started.
There wasn’t much idle chat from Takahashi and Handa. The only ones really doing the talking were Xan and Kato, who had to admit that Xan knew how to tell a story, even the most mundane of one would be humorous. Xan remarked that Kato was his best audience.
The cards were against Handa this evening. Takahashi was “shooting the moon,” as it was called, and it came to the last trick.
As the last cards were played, the Queen of Spades came out of Handa’s hand, giving Takahashi the game.
“I’ll take that bitch from you,” Takahashi said to Handa with a confident grin.
Handa harrumphed and crossed his arms. “Like every-fucking-thing else you take from me,” he said.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” Takahashi replied.
“Nothing,” Handa said.
“Didn’t sound like nothing,” Takahashi complained.
“Fuck off,” Handa replied.
Kato was about to say something, but he felt Xan kick his leg. He looked at Xan who looked back and shook his head slightly, then looked back to the boys.
“No, I wanna hear this. I want to know what the fuck you have that I ever took. From what I hear, you have nothing to take.”
“You’re just as fucking condescending as your damn uke,” Handa said as his voice was raising. “A spoiled little rich kid, looking down on others, with no fucking clue.”
Takahashi replied, “I am not condescending like him.”
“Dude, you are. And it doesn’t bother you a damn bit when you take shit that others had to earn,” Handa said.
“Oh my god, would you just tell me what the fuck I took from you? Do you want me to buy you another one? Damn.”
Handa stood up which caused Takahashi to stand up. Kato put his hands on his chair as he was bracing himself to stand but Xan put his arm out, across Kato’s chest, and motioned him to stay seated.
Handa looked down at Takahashi and said, “You are so fucking high and mighty that you didn’t even notice that you took from me the one fucking good thing I had going in this life.”
Takahashi yelled back, “What! What the fuck did I take?”
Handa yelled back, “Father Jacobs!”