Unfortunately, there have been several tragic deaths of students at St. Catherine’s. One of the saddest tragedies was a senior (fourth year*) who was in the firefighting class. He had an undiagnosed congenital heart defect and had collapsed during a training session which involved carrying a heavy water hose up the stairs of the fire escape staircase. Every year on May 25th, the school sets their flags at half-staff in honor of the fallen hero.
Kato was spent after the grueling English assignment. He definitely needed the 10-minute break now that class was over. He looked back and saw that Takahashi had his head down on the desk. Kato wondered if he was spent too. He decided not to bother Takahashi this one time, so he got up and left the room to run to the water fountain.
As he was drinking, Murata walked up. “Some assignment, huh?”
Kato nodded as he was slurping up water.
“Save some for the whales,” Murata said in English.
Kato stopped and looked at Murata with a puzzled expression. “Huh?”
Murata snickered. “An expression I heard once. Never mind.”
Kato was sated so he wiped his mouth with his hand and moved out of the way, figuring that Murata wanted some next. Murata leaned over and started drinking.
“You know,” Kato said as he crossed his arms and leaned his back against the wall. “Tomorrow will be one month since we’ve met.”
Murata stopped drinking. “What? I thought we met on a Thursday.”
Kato smiled. “Well, I suppose you are right. But I first saw you on a Wednesday.”
“Oh?” Murata asked. “I don’t remember that.”
“Yeah, I was getting clothes at the clothing room and you and another boy showed up right after me.”
Murata stood up and sighed. “I was probably too scared at the time. At lot happened that first day.”
“Oh, I didn’t mean to bring up any bad memories. It was a hard day for me too.” Kato paused for a moment as Murata went back to drinking. “Tomorrow is also the one-month anniversary of being chosen as Takahashi’s uke.”
Murata stopped drinking and stood up, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He looked at Kato and said, “I remember the incident in the chow hall. It happened so fast that I didn’t see who it was that Takahashi chose. Not that I understood what that meant at the time either. But it made quite the news among the students, especially on the wing back in the dorm. They were just talking up a storm during showers that night. Nobody knew who the new kid was.”
Kato looked down at his feet and spoke, “I feel bad about this, but Takahashi-san might have chosen you instead of me if it weren’t for me stupidly sitting in his seat. He was trying to find either one of us so he could save one of us from Handa-san. But he found me first and so then, because of the stupid rules, he couldn’t help defend you against Handa-san.”
“I see,” Murata said. After a brief pause, he said, “Then I’m glad he chose you.”
Kato looked up. “Huh?”
“I would feel guilty too if you got beat up instead of me.” Murata smiled gently. “Besides, I doubt he and I would have ever worked out. I mean, maybe we could have been a functional seme/uke, but not much more than that. I think you two were meant to find each other.”
Kato was silent for a few moments, then asked, “Like fate, or destiny, or something?”
Murata shrugged. “I don’t know about all that, but it’s definitely something. You should really sit back and reflect on the past month and how lucky you really are to have found such a special seme like Takahashi. You might appreciate things more if you did.”
“Wait, special?” Kato asked. “You just said you and he would have never worked out. Didn’t sound like you think of him as special.”
“He’s special in his own way, and I think only you can bring the best out of him,” Murata said.
“And the worst,” Kato added.
Murata chuckled. “It probably seems like that but even after all that, you two made it a month. Congratulations.” Murata chuckled some more.
“Gee, thanks,” Kato said, shaking his head.
“If Takahashi-san had chose me, I wouldn’t have been available for Nakamura-san. So, again, I’m okay with it. Don’t beat yourself up about it.”
Kato sighed with relief. “I was pretty happy for you that a seme chose you. Sometimes I’m jealous too.”
Kato uncrossed his arms and looked down at his palms. “You two seem to be perfect together. Always happy, laughing, having a good time.”
Murata laughed. “Dude, it’s not all unicorns and rainbows, believe me. We’ve had our share of fights, but we made a pact to keep them to ourselves and never to go to sleep angry and the problem spill over to the next day. We deal with the issue as soon as possible.”
“That reminds me!” Kato exclaimed. “Do you know what the first rule of being a uke is?”
“So, you knew! How long have you known and why didn’t you tell me? I had to find out from the ukes on my wing.”
“I knew it as soon as Nakamura-san chose me and told me about it. I tried to tell you, but you never listen.”
Kato cross his arms again and harrumphed.
Murata grinned. “When did you find out?”
Kato looked down and quietly said, “Yesterday.”
Murata burst out in laughter. “Better late than never, eh?”
“Shut up,” Kato said.
“What’s better late than never?” Takahashi said as he walked up.
Kato glared at Takahashi and said, “How come you never told me what the first rule of being an uke is?”
Takahashi smirked as he ticked off his fingers one by one, saying, “One: I’m not an uke. Two: I thought you knew. Three: I figured you didn’t care.”
Kato straightened up and put his hands on his hips, deciding to only take exception to number three. “What do you mean I didn’t care?”
Takahashi shook his head and said, “I was pretty sure Tachibana-san explained the role of an uke to you, and you took showers with ukes and,” he glanced at Murata, “you had an uke as a friend. I figured you must have known but just didn’t care.”
Kato looked at Murata then crossed his arms and went back to glaring at Takahashi.
“I assumed that all we were ever going to be was uke first, seme last.” Kato could tell that there was the slightest hint of sorrow in Takahashi’s voice, that he was probably attempting hard to hide.
Kato really wanted to argue the point, but Murata was there listening to the whole thing, so he decided to drop the issue, for now. He figured he wasn’t completely to blame but he had his share of it, enough to cause much of the strife this past month with his wolf.
Takahashi went to the fountain as Murata moved away and he started to drink.
“By the way, Xan-san said he wants us all to play cards tonight,” Murata said, causing Takahashi to choke on the water he was drinking.
“What? That means you-know-who is going to be there too,” Kato said.
“I already told him I’m busy,” Takahashi said.
“With what?” Kato asked.
“Nothing. Just busy.”
Kato’s curiosity was riled up now. Takahashi was hiding something, and Kato didn’t like it. But, again, Murata was here so he decided not to take issue with this either, for now. “Whatever,” Kato said.
“Oh, don’t make it just me and Nakamura-san alone with those two,” Murata said. Kato was sure this was the first time he had ever heard Murata whine.
Kato grumbled a little but acquiesced. “He’s busy, but I’m not. I’ll go with you Murata-san.” He glared at Takahashi.
“Wait, why didn’t you make up an excuse?” Kato asked Murata.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t think of something,” Murata said.
From the corner of Kato’s eye, he saw Handa approaching. Instantly, an unknown worry swirled around his stomach. Takahashi moved away from the fountain and stood next to Kato, with Murata on the other side.
Handa took one look at the three of them standing along the wall as he walked to the fountain to drink. Takahashi turned and started for the classroom with Kato following closely behind and Murata in tow. Kato wasn’t sure why he felt the way he did right now, since he was somewhat cordial with Handa last night. He chalked it up to bad past experiences with Handa in this hallway.
End note: Typically, high school in Japan is three years, but at St. Catherine’s, high school is four years, 9th through 12th grade.