Sleep. It’s something everyone does, in varying degrees, without exception. Many believe it to be a wonderful thing, but many also see it as a curse, a nighttime enemy that they must contend with.
It’s estimated that all people in all walks of life, at one time or another, have suffered from a bout of insomnia, whether it was a single sleepless night or the prolonged distress of chronic insomnia.
The causes for chronic insomnia are as varied as the people who suffer from it. It can be the result of the stress and trauma of life experiences, or a medical condition. There are various medications that attempt to help the sufferer sleep, all with different levels of efficacy. Some of these medications have been discovered to have bad side effects or cause codependency. In no way should they ever be mixed with alcohol.
—Excerpt of a student’s essay on insomnia
It was 9 o’clock now. He opened the door and left without saying another word to that perverted Tachibana. His stomach was full of dancing butterflies as he walked down the hallway and peeked through the door. The little old nun was gone. He walked out the door and passed by Aizawa with a small nod as he went onto the other wing. He walked down to room 560 and knocked. Takahashi opened the door and let him in.
“Good evening Ren-san.”
“Good evening Ken-san.” Kato smiled.
Takahashi pointed to where Kato could put his little bag. “So, rules of the road for this evening.”
Kato looked at Takahashi, expectantly.
“Eat whatever you like, drink whatever you like, do whatever you like, sleep whenever you like—on your own bunk, of course.” Takahashi grinned as he added that last part. “Feel free to sleep in boxers, but not nude.”
Kato blushed and smacked Takahashi’s arm. “Who would want to do that anyway?”
Takahashi winked back. “Ramune?”
Takahashi fetched two bottles out of a bag and gave one to Kato. “I’m looking forward to tonight.”
“Me too. My first swap.” Kato grinned. He sat down in one of the chairs to drink his soda.
“What?” Kato looked up as was shocked.
“Why so surprised?” Takahashi raised his eyebrow.
“Didn’t you have ukes before?”
Takahashi shrugged. “A few, yes. But none I really cared to spend the night with.”
Kato blushed a little at the implication, and yet he felt somewhat honored to have been chosen as Takahashi’s first swap. “But, what about your roommate? You haven’t had to swap so that he could have someone spend the night here with him?”
“Nah. Nobody wants to do it.” Takahashi sighed as he sad down on his bed.
“My reputation. They think I’ll beat up their roommate, or rape them, or some shit.”
“Ah.” Kato could understand that.
“Yeah, and my roommate and I get along well. We both play guitar, both sing, both write music, and he didn’t want to cause me any trouble, nor bring any on himself, so he swaps. He’s been together with his uke since we got here. His uke’s roommate is another uke that is a nice kid. He was super nervous the first time he found out he was swapping and would have to spend the night with me. But I broke the ice with some funny songs I played for him and we ended up chatting all night.”
Takahashi shook his head and smiled. “If he didn’t already have a seme, I might have asked to be his. He was very likeable. I was again in between ukes.”
Kato couldn’t resist. “How many ukes have you had?”
Takahashi looked up at the ceiling for a moment, then looked at Kato. “Nine.”
“Holy fuck,” Kato said in a half-whisper.
Takahashi laughed. “Yeah?”
Kato immediately looked down at his ramune, quickly deciding to take another sip.
“They don’t seem to last very long.” Takahashi said.
“Why not?” Kato was super curious now.
“Well, half of them couldn’t put up with my temper and all we ever ended up doing was argue.”
Kato gave a tiny smile. He could understand why.
“One you know about, the incident at the pool. The seme was the eighth. Yeah, he doesn’t really count but I added him in there anyways.”
“Who’s the last one?” Kato asked.
“You.” Takahashi started laughing.
“Oh, yeah,” Kato felt like an idiot.
“So that leaves only one other. He was the uke before the pool uke. I already had a bad reputation. I was willing to fight anyone at that point. I just didn’t care. I don’t know why he and I ever got together. We constantly argued, and he would get in trouble all the time by mouthing off at others and I would end up getting tangled up in his shit and have to save his ass.”
Takahashi was getting worked up talking about this uke. Kato could hear the anger in his voice. Kato asked with some irritation in his voice, “Why did you do that? Why didn’t you let him get his ass beat once so he would learn?”
Takahashi glared and snapped. “Fuck. How many times do I gotta say it? I have to—protect—my—uke—.” He slowly said that last part.
Kato quickly replied, “Sorry, sorry. I know, I know.”
Takahashi took a breath. “The last time I fought for him he had pissed off a table of semes. All four of them were tired of his shit. They all stood up and went to his table. I got up and rushed over there to protect my uke, who was too damn busy telling the semes where they could go fuck themselves. I ended up getting my ass beat pretty badly. Nobody helped me, especially those fuckers who I eat lunch with every day. I’m sure they didn’t even bother to look my way as I was beaten.” Takahashi was bitter, Kato could tell.
Kato didn’t say a thing. He got up and sat down next to Takahashi on the edge of the bunk; they both faced the room. He didn’t know why he wanted to sit beside Takahashi each time he told a horrid story, but he felt that maybe just his close presence would keep Takahashi calm.
“You going to lean on me again?” Takahashi looked at Kato.
“Maybe,” Kato replied with a smile.
Takahashi huffed. “Anyways, after that, I spent a few days in the infirmary and heard through some others that my uke had abandoned me. He talked a bunch of shit about how his seme couldn’t protect him. How the fuck am I supposed to fight off four guys?”
Kato leaned against Takahashi. “Yeah, doesn’t seem fair.”
“Yeah,” Takahashi agreed. “I was disillusioned. I really started to question the fairness of seme/uke. It didn’t seem fair that my uke, who is supposed to support me, would instead make trouble for us and then I would have to fight.”
Kato was quietly listening and feeling tad guilty for all the trouble he’s caused Takahashi. Being this close, he could smell Takahashi’s familiar scent. He could also smell his cologne. Why is he wearing cologne before bed? Kato wondered.
“Enough of that. Sit up, let’s play some music.” Kato sat straight up; ears perked.
Takahashi grabbed the guitar and they ended up singing together lots of great songs.
Afterwards, Takahashi spoke up. “Ren-san, I want to do something with you.”
Kato became nervous. “What?”
“Let’s play some Cribbage—in our boxers.”
Kato became alarmed. “Why?” He asked.
“Think of it as ‘comfortableness training.'”
“Eh?” Kato questioned.
“I want us to be comfortable around each other. I hope this isn’t the only time we get to swap. At the same time, I don’t want to feel ashamed around you. If we did this, perhaps we both could learn to relax and not judge each other’s bodies.”
“I dunno.” Kato was concerned that this could lead to other unsavory ideas.
“I’m not asking you to get naked with me, Ren-san. Just this. I give you permission to look at me. Perhaps when your curiosity is satisfied, we can move on.”
“Move on to what?” Kato asked quickly.
Takahashi laughed. “Wait. I didn’t mean it like that. I meant that we could move on as in let it go, be done with it, not worry about it anymore.”
“Oh.” Kato nodded.
“Let’s just sit here, play cards, drink ramune, and pass out, all in comfort.”
It sounded reasonable to Kato. After all, it couldn’t be too much different than simply wearing swim trunks, he thought. So, they took off all their clothes but their boxers. Kato still blushed and he was almost certain that even Takahashi blushed a little. They sat on Takahashi’s bunk, facing each other, and played Cribbage and joked and laughed well into the night.
Kato couldn’t help himself though. He did look quite a few times at Takahashi’s body. He also felt that Takahashi looked back. He blushed a lot at first but by the end of the night, he felt a lot closer to Takahashi by this experience than he imagined, and he didn’t blush anymore.
Kato had his eyes closed for a minute; he was super sleepy. He felt Takahashi get up. As he was in and out of consciousness, he thought he felt Takahashi remove his glasses and lay him down on the bunk and cover him with a blanket. He really did want to protest but he didn’t seem to have any willpower left in the matter.
He awoke up with a start in the middle of the night. He had to pee. He quickly ascertained that he was sleeping in Takahashi’s bed. He could smell his scent in the blanket and the pillow. It was pleasant. He quietly got up and looked at the top bunk. The sleeping form of Takahashi was there. He felt a little guilty. He was supposed to be sleeping up there. He went to the bathroom and returned, crawled back into Takahashi’s bed and went back to sleep.
“R-. Ren-. Ren-san.” He heard his name being called. He felt someone pull a lock of hair out of his eyes. He opened his weary eyes and saw Takahashi there, softly calling his name. Takahashi was sitting on the edge of the bunk looking at Kato.
“Sleepyhead. It’s 5:45. Time to get up. Aizawa will be here in 15 minutes to swapback.”
Kato really did like the soft way that Takahashi was speaking to him. He stretched then realized he had a case of the morning wood. He blushed and hoped to hell that Takahashi hadn’t noticed. “I’m awake,” he said quickly.
“Ok. Do you like coffee?” Takahashi asked.
“Um, I had it once. It’s okay.” Kato replied.
“I’ll make you some.” Takahashi got up and started making a cup. He had some boiling water in a pitcher.
Kato sat up, willing his erection to die down. He watched Takahashi at the desk, making the coffee. He was still in his boxers. Kato could see the bruises on his back. He examined the musculature of Takahashi in the morning light coming through the window. He really was a fine specimen of a young man. Kato even admired Takahashi’s butt. It was the perfect shape. Then his brain froze solid. What the fuck is wrong with me? Kato thought. He averted his gaze.
“Here you go. Some people like it black, some with cream or sugar. I’ll let you decide.” He put a small tray on the bed that had little packets.
Kato wasn’t sure how he liked his coffee. He sipped it. It was hot and quite bitter. He added some sugar and it was less bitter. Then he tried a creamer and it made the coffee real nice. He decided that one creamer and two sugars was just about right. He made that a mental note for the future should he have the occasion to drink it again.
They sat there, drinking their coffee in silence. Kato could feel the coffee warm him and it seemed to start lifting the haziness from his mind.
Kato looked at Takahashi. “Yes?”
“I hope you enjoyed yourself as my guest for the evening.”
Kato nodded. “I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
“Me too. Would you want to do it again, sometime?” Takahashi questioned softly.
Takahashi smiled. “I had hoped you would. Maybe we can next Friday too. I’ll cook something to convince Aizawa-san and Tachibana-san.”
Kato grinned. “I’m pretty sure Tachibana-san would be ecstatic.”
“It’s Saturday morning. Do you want to go swimming with me?”
“Yeah, sounds good. I’ll go,” Kato agreed.
“Good.” Takahashi finished his coffee and got dressed. Kato followed suit.
Before Kato left, he waved and said, “See you in a bit.” Takahashi waved back and Kato returned to his room, smiling at Aizawa as they passed by each other.