When I was growing up, my father had taken in a stray female cat. He patiently fed her and took care of her. The cat warmed up to my father and ended up loving him like no other person in our family. She was definitely my father’s cat.
One day, a dog happened to walk by the fence where the cat was and the silly animal decided to start hissing and reaching under the fence, swiping her claw at the dog. Needless to say, the cat’s paw was injured by the dog.
My father picked up the snarling cat. She was yowling and hissing, biting and clawing, as my father held her. He was bleeding as he took her to the vet. When he returned, I told him that I couldn’t believe that the cat that he had taken care of and loved for so long would do that to him.
He simply looked at me and said, “She was in pain. That wasn’t her. She didn’t mean to do it.”
That lesson applies to people as well. Sometimes the ones we love the most are in great physical or, more often, emotional pain and they bite and claw at us with their words, causing us to bleed. However, we should remember that our loved one is in pain, not acting like themselves, and they don’t mean what they say. We should learn to do as my father did and be understanding, be loving, and be forgiving.
—Lessons in Love and Forgiveness by Dr. M. L. Hamilton.
Kato woke up at the sound of the alarm. He was groggy but he realized that yesterday was all just a dream. Takahashi wasn’t really sick. Handa wasn’t really his roommate. Murata didn’t really have an ex-girlfriend. Just a simple dream. He heard the alarm being switched off. He laid there with his eyes closed as he heard Tachibana moving around, getting ready. His eyes popped open suddenly as he looked. Fuck! he thought. It wasn’t a dream. He saw Handa in his boxers collecting a few hygiene items. He was thankful that at least Handa wore boxers.
He closed his eyes again and waited for the boy to leave. He suddenly realized that it was Thursday, and that meant he and Takahashi would have to face Sister Mary once again. He would absolutely not be late today or cause any trouble for fear that it would affect Takahashi. He hoped that Takahashi wouldn’t act up again. Those twelve canes were only two days old. He really did worry that there might be permanent damage or scarring.
He got up, grabbed a few items and went down to the bathroom. He didn’t relish the idea of being in the same bathroom as Handa, but he felt he had no choice. He needed to get ready for breakfast. He entered the bathroom and there were a few boys, ukes, that were at the far sink, whispering to themselves. Handa was at the closest sink and minding his own business. Kato didn’t want any trouble, so he went into a stall.
When he came out, Handa was gone and so were the boys. He cleaned up and returned, thankful that he survived another trip to the bathroom.
He entered the room and Handa was already dressed. Handa grinned and winked at Kato before he left. Kato got dressed and went to breakfast.
Murata was there before Kato, for once. Kato sat down and greeted Murata with a smile and received a smile and a greeting in return.
Murata then started looking Kato over. “How was it spending the night with Handa-san?” Murata asked.
“I’m fine. He didn’t touch me, yet,” Kato said.
“Yet.” Murata said.
Kato looked over and saw Takahashi in line. He looked rough, and unkempt. He felt a swell of pity for his wolf. He simply wanted to hold him and take care of him, but it seems fate had other plans.
“See that memo about Culture Day?” Murata asked.
“Yeah. I was wondering what happened,” Kato said. Culture Day is a big holiday every year and Kato sort of wrote it off because this school sometimes seems to be in its own little world where time and place doesn’t matter. He was glad that this weekend there will be something fun to do. He mentally calculated that it would be his and Takahashi’s fifth date. He felt his heart glow a little at that thought.
“I heard that today, in Japanese class, we will be discussing what we might contribute.” Murata smiled.
“What do you mean? Contribute?”
“Like talents, making things, song, dance, sports, and so on.”
Kato thought for a moment. He didn’t know of any talent he had that he could contribute and still wasn’t sure what Murata was talking about. “What are you going to contribute?”
“Well,” Murata smiled. “I really like origami, so maybe I can sign up to do that.”
“Neat. I didn’t know you knew that.” Kato said.
“Yup. And Nakamura-san said he would try to sign up for a “Kyūdō exhibition.”
[弓道, Kyūdō (kyoo-doh), the revered Japanese martial art of archery.]
“Wow, I would love to see that.” Kato remarked. “I bet Takahashi will be playing baseball or something.”
Murata shrugged. “We’ll find out this afternoon.”
Kato came into the classroom and saw Takahashi there with his head on the desk, face down, with his arms around his head. Kato put his stuff on his desk and then stood next to Takahashi and leaned his back against the wall. Takahashi must have sensed this as he asked with a muffled voice, “Yes?”
“How you feeling?” Kato had this tremendous, almost irresistible urge to give Takahashi a hug, but he didn’t since there were other students around.
“I see.” Kato said. “Anything I can do to help?”
Takahashi said, “No.”
“Oh, come on,” Kato whined. “I wanna do something.”
“How about leave me alone?” Takahashi said without moving.
Kato ignored that completely. “I thought you said you had your shots.”
Takahashi coughed again. Kato felt bad for his wolf, but he secretly thought Takahashi’s cough was kind of cute.
“They said it wasn’t 100% effective,” Takahashi said.
Kato looked around but the few students that were here weren’t even on this side of the room nor paying any attention. He reached out to the back of Takahashi’s bare neck and gently massaged it a little. “I’m sorry you got sick because of me,” he said, as soothingly as he could.
Takahashi simply coughed some more. More students started to come in, so Kato went to his desk to sit down.
After sitting there in class for almost ten minutes after the chime announced that class had started, the students were noisily chatting when a nun had walked in, who was not Sister Mary, and was carrying a book.
“Class, attention please.” All the students quieted down. “Sister Mary has taken a sabbatical. There will be no English lesson today, so you are free to do other classwork or homework until next class at 9:40. I’ll be here to watch the class until then.” Then she went to sit down at the desk, opened her book, and began to read.
Kato looked around and met Takahashi’s eyes. Sabbatical? The only other time he had heard that word was when Takahashi said that his former abuser disappeared. Maybe that meant Sister Mary was gone now too. Takahashi simply put his head back down on his desk. Kato wondered why Takahashi even bothered to show up to class if he was feeling that bad. Kato spent the whole class working on some English exercises in his schoolbook.
At break, he looked back. Takahashi was still there, head down. Kato got up and went to lean against the wall again, with his hands in his pockets.
“Yes?” Takahashi mumbled.
“I need to go pee.” Kato stated.
Takahashi turned his head to the side and looked up at Kato with one eye open. Kato smiled in return. Takahashi groaned and pulled himself up out of the desk and Kato led the way to the bathroom.
Nobody was in the bathroom right now, and Kato was happy for that. He took care of his business as his wolf leaned against the far wall with his arms crossed and eyes closed. Kato felt safe. He knew his wolf was on alert for any trouble.
Kato washed up then went over to stand in front of the wolf. Takahashi opened his eyes. “What?” he asked.
Kato pouted a little. “I didn’t get a good-morning kiss today.”
Takahashi snorted. “Who said you get one every day?”
“Aw,” Kato wined a little.
Takahashi cupped his hands around Kato’s face and kissed him ever so gently on the lips. The softly burning embers in Kato’s heart reignited into a roaring flame again. He wondered at how much he craved intimacy with his wolf.
Takahashi pulled away, then looked to the side and coughed a little. “If you get this thing back, just remember you asked for it.”
“I accept the consequences.” Kato moved in to hug Takahashi, surprising him. He took care to put his arms around the small of Takahashi’s back where there were no bruises. Kato could smell that wonderfully familiar, masculine scent of Takahashi. He could hear his heartbeat. He could also smell that cologne that Takahashi wore. He amused himself with the thought that maybe his wolf only wore it for Kato.
Takahashi gave him a quick hug back and then said, “Come on, let’s go. I’m still too sick to be horsing around with you like this.”
“Why did you come to class then?” Kato couldn’t help but ask.
“I was not going to let you face that fucking bitch alone,” Takahashi growled.
That statement turned the heat in Kato’s heart up a notch. Kato let go of Takahashi and simply stood there looking at him. A question suddenly formed in his mind. “What is a sabbatical?”
“She’s gone for a long time, probably permanently. That’s what it means.”
Kato smiled. “Good.”
Takahashi walked out of the bathroom with his intermittent cough and Kato followed him back to class.
World Lit was boring as hell. Kato wondered if the instructor was simply a boring lecturer or if it was the material’s fault.
At lunch, there was a lot of talk about Sister Mary’s absence. Everyone seemed to know that it was because of that incident with Takahashi. It seemed the opinions were split on the matter. Half of the boys thought that Sister Mary went overboard and should have been dismissed. The other half blamed Takahashi for taunting and provoking her until she finally snapped. Only Kato knew the real story and there was no way he would ever repeat it.
In Japanese class, Sister Angela talked in length about all of the Culture Day activities on the upcoming Saturday. Apparently, there were so many activities that the school had to spread it out over two days. Kato finally decided that he could do some drawings and artwork that would be on display along with other boys’ crafts, including Murata’s origami. He was particularly pleased to know that Takahashi would be playing music on Sunday afternoon in a band with some other students. He knew he wouldn’t miss this for the world. Kato noted that Handa had signed up for theater. All he can do is act like a pervert, Kato snidely thought.
As they exited the Japanese class, Takahashi said, “I’m not doing sports today. I need rest. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Kato’s heart sunk. Tomorrow seemed like such a long way away.
“But I could come over after showers tonight and see how you are doing,” Kato offered.
“Don’t. I’ll be fine,” Takahashi warned.
“But don’t you need somebody to take care of you?” Kato whined.
“No. Xan-san is there.” Takahashi stated flatly, then coughed.
Kato felt wounded and instantly angry. “Fine!” he barked. “Then fucking forget I said anything.” Kato turned and marched off in a huff, returning back to his room.