I grew up loving music. I had toured the world in my youth and played for several bands. I was also a life-long catholic and loved the Lord very much.
After my last tour, I decided that I wanted to settle down and introduce children to the wonderful gift of music. I spent much time in primary education before a position opened up at a high school, which I took. It was a good opportunity as I could teach students that already had some basic music instruction. I also looked for those with latent talents or who needed advanced instruction.
I’ll never forget this one brilliant pupil, Kensuke Takahashi. He was truly devoted and played daily. We spent many jam sessions together. He went on to organize a school band and ended up graduating with a full scholarship to a famous school in America. I hear he became famous abroad. I hope he will write me someday or stop by for some tea.
—Excerpt from the autobiography of Father Pritchett
Kato awoke just after 1 pm. He was alone in the room. He remembered a time when all he wanted was to be alone. But now he missed Takahashi. He got up, put the robe on and went to use the restroom. When he returned, he decided to do his homework. He was sick and tired of being sick and tired already. He drank some juice that Takahashi had left and busily did homework. After that, he read more, then he laid his head down on the desk and rested for a bit.
He awoke to someone’s warm hand gently rubbing his bare back. He was still in his boxers. He couldn’t remember the last time he spent an entire day in his underwear. He looked up and saw that Takahashi had returned.
“Feeling any better?” Takahashi asked.
“A little,” Kato said. He wasn’t sure if that was true or not. He looked at the clock and it was 4:17 pm.
“You feel up to dinner tonight or do you want to stay in?”
Kato shook his head, “I don’t wanna go.”
“Okay, no problem. I’ll see that you get fed.”
Kato suddenly felt emotional. He didn’t know why. A tear quickly formed and ran down his cheek as he stared up at Takahashi.
“Hey, I’ll take care of you,” Takahashi said reassuringly as he cupped Kato’s cheek with his hand, wiping the tear away with his thumb.
Kato looked away, breaking free of Takahashi’s hand. He was embarrassed. “Sorry about that. Must be this flu.”
Takahashi simply replied, “I understand.” After a moment he continued, “I’m gonna go get some stuff from my room and see about dinner. Be back in a while. Oh, here’s this afternoon’s homework assignment.” He left a paper on the desk.
“Okay,” Kato smiled. He went back to finishing up his homework.
Takahashi returned just after 5 o’clock with something that smelled wonderful. He spooned it up into two bowls. It was beef udon.
Kato sat up eagerly. He ate it with gusto and even asked for a seconds and thirds.
“Somebody was hungry,” Takahashi smiled.
“That was excellent. Thank you.” Kato said.
Takahashi chuckled. “How about we dispense with the ‘thank yous’?”
Kato wondered at this. “Huh?”
Takahashi smiled. “No need to say it so often. I know it already.”
Kato took some more medicine. He wasn’t tired. Takahashi began filling him in on what the instructors went over in class today in the lectures.
“It’s 6 o’clock. I need to hit the showers. Kind of strange showering with the semes on a different wing.”
“Will you be okay?” Kato asked.
“Yeah. I know there are a few on this wing that don’t like me but I’m sure they wouldn’t fight me either.” Takahashi smiled.
Kato was hardly reassured. “Okay,” he said.
Takahashi got up and undressed completely in front of Kato, even taking his boxers off. Kato gawked a little as he was completely surprised by this. Takahashi didn’t pay Kato any mind. He casually grabbed his bathrobe and put it on and then grabbed his hygiene items and went to the showers.
Kato sat there for a minute. He didn’t understand but there was some perverted reason inside him that liked looking at Takahashi when he was naked; some perverse interest he thought he would surely pay for in his next life. He shook the odd desire out of his head and studied for another thirty minutes.
Takahashi returned, and then he disrobed and held out the robe as he offered to help Kato get in it. This caused Kato to scamper up and he removed his boxers and then he fed his arms through and turned around as Takahashi closed the robe and cinched the rope around the waste.
Takahashi blushed a little. “Stop staring and go take a shower, you goof.”
Kato didn’t know why he said it, but he blurted in protest, “You gave me permission to look.”
Takahashi scratched the back of his head, turning a little redder. “Yeah, yeah. Just go shower,” he shyly chuckled.
Kato turned and left the room to shower.
He was greeted in the bathroom by a few of the boys as he disrobed and went into the shower. The hot water felt nice, and the steam in the shower seemed to help clear out his airways. He was glad he didn’t have any sniffles, but he definitely felt a frog in his throat. He washed up, taking a long time, just soaking in all that warmth.
When he went to the hooks, he suddenly remembered that he wore a bathrobe and didn’t have boxers to change into, which meant he had to go back and undress in front of Takahashi again. Oh well, he thought. He put the robe on and went back to the room.
He entered the room and Takahashi was sitting there on the bunk, in his boxers, playing a little on his guitar. He looked up at Kato, who disrobed and put on some boxers.
“I’m glad to see that we are finally becoming a little more comfortable around each other.” Takahashi opined.
“It’s still a little awkward for me,” Kato admitted. “But I am trying.”
“That’s all I’ve ever asked,” Takahashi replied.
Kato sat down in the chair and listened. Takahashi played for a while then he played a few love songs. The melodies between them all varied. One was a somber story of two lovers who were fated to meet and then fated to part. Kato believed that fate could be so cruel to do that to people.
Takahashi also played some popular songs that they both knew the words to. Kato’s tried to sing along but his voice was coarse. Takahashi didn’t seem to mind it one bit.
After a long while of guitar, Takahashi offered to play some cards for a bit. Kato got on the bunk opposite of Takahashi and they played cards for a while.
“Ren-san?” Takahashi asked.
Kato had been lost in thought, whether it was the food, medication, or sickness, or any combination of them. He was staring at Takahashi’s body. He was well-defined, toned, but he didn’t have a six-pack. He noticed that there was no hair except the happy trail. For some reason that last thought was a little interesting but was interrupted by his name being called out.
“Huh?” He looked up at Takahashi.
“Your turn,” he replied.
“Oh.” Kato picked a card and played it.
“Ren-san. Can I ask you something?”
“What do you think of when you stare at me?” He played a card.
Kato could feel his cheeks grow warm. “I dunno.”
“Don’t lie. Just tell me,” Takahashi warned.
Kato felt even more embarrassed. He looked down at his cards. “I really don’t know. I just like looking at you. It’s,” Kato scrambled for a word, “interesting, somehow.”
Takahashi was quiet for a moment, then said, “I’m not judging you. I’ll be honest. I’ve had others do it too, but it always scared me when they did it. But I don’t feel any fear when you look at me. That’s why I let you do it.”
Kato was pretty sure he was still blushing. “I see.”
“Your turn,” Takahashi reminded him.
Kato played a card. “I’m sorry, Ken-san. I think maybe there’s something wrong with me. Maybe cause I’m sick. I don’t mean to.”
Takahashi played a card. “Remember, I’m not judging you. I also don’t think there is anything wrong with you. We’re human. We’re naturally curious. It happens.”
Kato was silent for a minute. “Have you ever looked?” he asked, almost inaudibly.
Kato felt self-conscious.
“Look at me, Ren-san.” Kato looked up as Takahashi continued, “Relax and remember, we’re both friends, we’re both boys, and we’re both not going to hurt each other. I don’t have any bad intentions, nor do I want to have sex with you.”
Kato nodded. “Okay.” He knew Takahashi didn’t want to have sex with him, but he still felt some small bit of rejection hearing him so plainly state it.
“Your turn, Ren-san.”
Kato woke to Takahashi coming back into the room. “I think it’s time for bed. Take some medicine, brush your teeth and come back.” Takahashi took off the robe and gave it to Kato.
Kato did precisely that. When he returned, Takahashi was already in bed with his back to the wall, facing Kato. He wasn’t sure he should do this again. He wasn’t as sick as last night. What would be his excuse for sleeping with Takahashi again like this?
“Come, Ren-san.” Takahashi pulled back the blankets, inviting Kato to bed.
Kato removed the robe and crawled into bed, with his back against Takahashi’s front. Takahashi gently put his arm around Kato and started to rub Kato’s arm a bit. He could feel Takahashi’s breath on the back of his neck, sending little bits of electricity throughout his body.
“Why are we sleeping together, again, Ken-san?” Kato asked softly. He couldn’t resist asking what was troubling him.
“You’re sick,” Takahashi reminded him.
“Yeah, but only last night. I feel better now.” Kato said.
“If you don’t want me to sleep with you, I can grab some blankets and sleep up on the top bunk.” Takahashi quietly offered.
Maybe Kato imagined it, but he thought he could detect a little disappointment in those words. He sat there for a minute pondering what he really wanted. Did he want to sleep like this again or not? Was it wrong to sleep like this with another boy? What if he got used to it? What would that mean? —
“I’ll get up,” Takahashi offered as he raised up his head and shoulders, interrupting Kato’s thoughts.
Kato felt a little panic in his heart at the thought of losing this closeness with Takahashi, so he grabbed onto Takahashi’s hand, saying, “No, don’t. Stay, please.”
“Are you sure? It’s no trouble.”
“Don’t go,” Kato quietly said.
Takahashi laid back down. His breath began teasing Kato’s flesh again.
After a couple of minutes, Kato asked, “Is what we are doing,” he paused, then continued, “right?”
There was a minute of silence. Kato wondered if he should have asked that question.
Takahashi softly spoke, “Ren-san. I think there’s right and wrong that all people should follow, like not murdering or stealing. But for this, I believe right and wrong should something that you and I determine for ourselves, something that exists between us only. If you or I feel it is wrong, then we stop.”
Kato considered that for a bit. He really did like the warmth Takahashi provided, and the care, and even that he would rub his arm gently. This level of intimacy shared did make Kato feel warm inside. How could this be wrong? he asked himself. He suddenly remembered what Murata told him once. “Love isn’t an evil thing.” Maybe he should just accept Takahashi’s friendship without reservation. And maybe he would be happier for it, like Murata and Nakamura obviously were.
Takahashi tried to withdraw his hand, but Kato prevented it by holding on. “Don’t go. I’m okay with this. It’s not wrong.”
“Okay,” Takahashi replied. “Um, Ren-san.”
Kato replied, “Yes?”
“I actually needed to scratch my balls. I wasn’t leaving,” Takahashi confessed.
Kato was very glad that it he had turned off the light before he got in bed because he was pretty sure he was blushing furiously. Even his shoulders felt warm. He quickly let go of Takahashi’s hand.
After Takahashi did it, he kept his hand to himself. “You gonna give me your hand again, Ken-san?”
“I just used it to, you know—you know what I was touching. You want it back now?” Takahashi snickered.
Kato was embarrassed but he chuckled, “It’s okay. I know you’re clean. I don’t mind.”
Takahashi put his arm back around Kato and rubbed his arm again. Kato felt warm, and cared for, and he fell asleep soundly.