Father Avery Jacobs was an especially gifted music teacher at St. Catherine’s. He was an outside hire and came highly recommended.
He had a special rapport with his students and took it upon himself to use much of his personal time to instruct many in voice, piano, and guitar. Many students looked up to Father Jacobs as a mentor and excelled in the musical arts.
No one seems to know why he left his position one day, to take a sabbatical. He was missed by many.
Kato woke up at the alarm. He felt terrible. He definitely had a cold. He laid there listening to Tachibana get up and leave. He continued laying there when Tachibana returned.
“You getting up?”
Kato’s voice was a little raspy when he replied, “No, I think I’ll skip breakfast. I don’t feel good.”
“Yeah, you don’t sound like it. Okay, I’ll bring you back some fruit then.” Tachibana left.
Kato still had food from Takahashi so he would eat something later. He rolled over and fell back to sleep.
Tachibana woke him and said, “Maybe you should go see the doctor. If you’re going to miss Sunday Mass, they will want to make sure you are sick and not faking it.”
Kato grumbled to himself. He absolutely, positively, unequivocally, just hated to be fucked with when he was sick. All he wanted to do was crawl into a hole and die; just be done with it. “Fine,” he said.
“Okay, all you gotta do is just go to the infirmary and check in. They’ll take care of you,” Tachibana said helpfully.
Kato got up, got dressed, and left the dorm and headed to the infirmary, following the simple directions Tachibana gave before he left.
There was someone at the desk and Kato reported that he was feeling awful. He was directed to sit for a few minutes, and he will be seen. It seemed a hell of a lot longer than a few minutes.
A nurse came and asked him to come to a back room. She took his vitals and examined him. “What are the symptoms?”
Kato told her that he was tired, his throat hurt, and he ached a little.
“Well, you don’t have a fever yet, but it might be influenza. I’ll get you some medicine and you need to stay home all day and rest. Drink plenty of fluids.”
With that, Kato was sent back with some medication. Tachibana was gone, and looking at the time, he must be at Mass. He took his medication and laid down. He couldn’t sleep so he sat there in a fuzzy haze from the medicine and stared at the ceiling. He became sad. When he was sick as a child, his mother was there to care for him. As he got older, he wasn’t sick as much anymore, and when he did get sick, he kept it from his mother because he didn’t want to ruin her chance with the boyfriend-of-the-week. He tried his best to be a good son. He started to tear up thing about these things, so he wiped them away and rolled over into a ball and forced himself to not think about anything.
He heard Tachibana come back into the room. He had fallen asleep. He was still curled up in a ball, underneath his blankets, facing the wall. He felt a hand start rubbing his back and he immediately threw off the blankets and spun around, yelling, “Tachibana-san, what the fuck?”
Takahashi smirked at him. “Really?”
Kato stared at him for a few moments. “What are you doing here?”
Takahashi chuckled. “I’m going to take care of the sick rabbit.”
Kato glared, turned back around and covered himself with blankets. “Go away,” he grumbled.
“Not gonna happen. You’re stuck with me until tomorrow.”
Kato’s muffled and raspy voice spoke up from under the blankets, “All day? What the hell?”
“Tachibana-san doesn’t want to catch whatever the fuck you have, so we swapped.”
“Yeah, but it’s not even noon. I thought swaps only happen at 9.” Kato complained.
“They can happen earlier. But usually it’s a courtesy for the inconvenienced roommates to not leave until 9. But, again, Tachibana didn’t want to be around you all day until 9 so he took a bunch of stuff and swapped after Mass.”
Kato didn’t really want to put up with this guy all day when he was sick.
Takahashi pulled at Kato’s blankets. “Get up. I brought you some hot soup. I bet you haven’t even eaten yet today.”
Kato resisted. “No, go away.”
“Don’t make me pull out some funky Aikido and force you out of bed.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” Kato grouched.
Takahashi began rubbing Kato’s back through the blankets again. “Ren-san. Just have some soup and take some medication. Then I’ll leave you be.” Takahashi’s voice was gentle.
“Fine, but stop touching me,” he barked weakly. Kato got down and sat in a chair. He was still in his clothes from when he went to the doctor. He forgot to even take them off before he climbed back into bed. He obediently drank the soup. It was chicken soup. It was tasty but Kato was just doing this to make Takahashi go away. He took the medicine and stood up to climb back up in his bed.
“Stop,” Takahashi instructed. “Take off your clothes first.”
“What?” Kato protested.
“Just do it.” Takahashi started unbuttoning Kato’s shirt.
Kato tried to bat away Takahashi’s hands and complained, “I can do it.”
“Fine then. Do it.” Takahashi took the blankets off Kato’s bed and put them on Tachibana’s bed and arranged them.
Kato was now standing in only his boxers. “What are you doing?” he asked.
“Sleep here under this mound of blankets. Tachibana-san wouldn’t mind.”
Kato was done arguing. He got into bed and Takahashi tucked the blankets around Kato.
“You going to leave me alone now?” Kato whined.
“Yes, yes. I’m going to lunch then the Sports Complex.”
“Be careful of your ankle,” Kato weakly warned.
“Don’t worry about me. It will be fine.”
“Wait, aren’t you afraid you’ll get sick from me?”
Takahashi moved a lock of Kato’s hair to the side. He felt Kato’s forehead with his hand. “No. I had my shots. Seems you didn’t. No fever, so that’s a good sign. Rest up a bit. I’ll be back this afternoon.”
“I wish you wouldn’t,” Kato complained.
“Too fucking bad. I’m going to take care of my uke, whether he wants it or not,” Takahashi said rather firmly.
Kato pulled the covers over his head and heard Takahashi sigh. “Your only responsibility is to rest. I’ll take care of everything else.”
Kato listened to Takahashi as he left the room. He laid there, sleepless but medicated, for a long while. He tossed and turned but he couldn’t seem to sleep. He couldn’t seem to think either.
Kato awoke to someone touching his forehead. A warm hand was placed there. He opened his eyes and saw Takahashi there. “No fever yet,” he said.
“What time is it?” he weakly asked.
“Almost four. Get up. I have some more soup for you, some juice, and medicine.”
“Ren-san, don’t make me force you to get up. You won’t like it,” Takahashi warned.
Kato huffed loudly. “Fucking alright. I’ll get up.” Kato sat up in the bed with the blankets draped around him.
Takahashi simply smiled. “Good.” He handed Kato a mug of soup and watched him drink it. “Here is some juice. I want you to drink this too. You need to stay hydrated.”
Kato was grouchy but he still drank the juice and took the medicine. Then he said, “I gotta go pee.”
Takahashi got up and pulled some of the blankets away to help Kato get out of bed. Kato was in his boxers, but he was too sick to give a damn about modesty anymore. “Wait,” Takahashi motioned. He grabbed a white terry cloth bathrobe. “Wear this. Let me help.”
Kato put his arms out and Takahashi put the robe on him. Then he had Kato turn and face him as Takahashi gently cinched the rope at the waist. “I’ll buy you one of these when I get a chance.” He then turned Kato around and gently pushed him. “Go to the bathroom.”
Kato obediently went down the hallway and took care of business. He was glad there was nobody around to mess with him. When he came back, Takahashi took the robe off Kato and put him back into bed, tucking him back in.
Kato looked at Takahashi for a minute. “Why are you doing this?” he asked.
“You can’t seem to take proper care of yourself so I’m going to. Otherwise I’m pretty sure you would not have eaten anything, drank anything, or taken any medicine without my help,” Takahashi informed him.
“Oh,” Kato didn’t bother to argue. All he wanted to do was lie here.
Takahashi pulled out a book, sat down in one of the chairs, and started reading. Kato watched him for a bit. Occasionally, Takahashi would come over and check to see if Kato had a fever.
Despite the woozy head he had from the medication, he simply couldn’t sleep. He also thought that he must be a major inconvenience to Takahashi and wished that the boy would just leave and go find something to do besides sitting there reading that book and tending to him.
He awoke again. It was already dark. He was cold but he had many blankets on. He turned and Takahashi put his book down and came over to feel Kato’s forehead again. “You have a fever now,” Takahashi observed. “Sit up and have some more soup and juice and medicine.”
Kato obeyed. The soup was hot, but he was cold, wrapped up in the blankets. He drank the juice and took the medicine. “I gotta pee,” he mentioned.
“Get up then.” Takahashi fetched the bathrobe.
Kato got out from all the blankets and realized that the temperature in the room must be 30 degrees below zero. It was absolutely frigid. Takahashi helped him into the bathrobe and motioned him to go.
Kato went down to the bathroom and by the time he came back to the room, he was shaking like a leaf in the wind, and his teeth were chattering.
Takahashi had a concerned look on his face. “I’m so cold, Ken-san,” he whined. He couldn’t stop shivering.
Takahashi took the bathrobe off Kato and put him into bed. Kato watched as Takahashi took off his clothes, down to his boxers. He came over and lifted the covers and crawled into bed with Kato.
“What are you doing?” Kato weakly protested.
“I’m going to keep you warm. Besides, you have all the blankets. Where do you expect me to sleep?”
Again, Kato was just too weak to argue. Takahashi had Kato turn to face the wall and then he spooned up right next to Kato. He put his arm around Kato and rested his hand on Kato’s arm. He started to rub firmly, trying to rub some heat back into Kato who was still shivering.
In any other circumstance, Kato would have highly objected to this situation, but his strength was all but gone. He simply accepted it. It took quite some time for him to finally warm up and stop shivering. All the while, Takahashi kept rubbing Kato’s arm, or his back, trying to comfort him. Kato really hated being touched when he was sick but this time it seemed okay to him. The warmth of skin-to-skin contact with Takahashi’s body ended up being very welcome. Kato fell back to sleep in the comfort of another boy’s arms.