This is a continuation of PART 4.
WARNING: Sexual content.
Douno resigned himself to being kissed at night, and concluded that there was nothing he could do. If he said no, Kitagawa would not listen; on the other hand, if he resisted and made a commotion, he would only cause trouble for his fellow cellmates. If he felt Kitagawa kissing him, Douno made sure not to open his eyes. He pretended to be asleep, and waited patiently for the man’s presence to leave him.
Perhaps because of his long stint in prison, Kitagawa was sensitive to the footsteps of the night guard. Sometimes in the middle of a kiss, Kitagawa would draw away suddenly. A dozen or so seconds later, the guard would come patrolling. The guard walked on the carpeted part of the hallway during rounds, and his footsteps were faint; they were not faint enough, however, to escape Kitagawa’s uncanny hearing ability.
Kitagawa was also a master of concealment. The cold pills he had given to Douno were pills he had been collecting since summertime, by lying at every medical checkup that he was ill. Collecting medicine was against the rules, and was punishable if caught. But even during spot checks of their belongings in the group cell or in the factory, Kitagawa’s pills were never found. When it came to hiding things, he was incredibly adept.
As the days wore on without a way to curb Kitagawa from persistently following him around, Douno gradually grew used to the man’s uncomfortable level of closeness. Once Douno began taking it in stride, he found he could put up fairly well with Kitagawa’s unnatural attachment and kisses.
Telling the man off did not work. Kitagawa often responded with a nonsensical argument. To avoid letting himself get angry, Douno figured it was best not to say anything in the first place. Kitagawa seemed to interpret Douno’s silence as acceptance, and began to touch and kiss him as a matter of course.
Kumon joked at first about Kitagawa’s fixation with Douno, but he eventually stopped saying anything. Shiba minded his own business.
One Sunday at the end of a frigid February, there was a gathering for second-class prisoners. Prisoners were classified into four different classes, and those in third class or higher were given the privilege of participating in a gathering on their day off of work, where they ate snacks, drank juice, and watched a movie.
Douno was only months into his sentence, and therefore remained a fourth-class inmate with no gathering to go to. Kitagawa was in second class. That day there was a gathering for second-class inmates, and Kitagawa left in the morning to watch a movie. For Douno, who usually spent the whole day being followed around by Kitagawa, even a short respite from his presence was a great load off his shoulders.
Douno was enjoying a book by himself for once when Kakizaki spoke up from his spot across.
“Mr. Douno,” he drawled, “You’ve got really fair skin.”
Douno sensed that he was implying something. “It must be because I don’t get out much,” he said casually.
“It’s not just because you don’t get out. You’re fair to begin with,” Kakizaki said. “It stands out in the showers.”
Douno was disturbed to know where the man’s eyes had been prying during their baths.
“Y’know what I’ve been thinkin’ about, Mr. Douno? Is bro Kitagawa really your type?”
Douno hesitated at the bare question.
“He and I aren’t like that,” he replied.
“Uh, it’s pretty obvious you guys are homo,” Kakizaki said blandly. Douno had no argument to make. He had drawn a clear line within himself, but for everyone else, the fact that he and Kitagawa kissed at night and were intimate for no apparent reason drew the inevitable assumption that they were gay.
Kakizaki leaned over the desk.
“Just between you and me,” he said, lowering his voice. “I heard bro Kitagawa’s never done it with a girl or a guy.”
Kumon had apparently heard him in spite of his hushed tone, and pounced on the subject.
“So he’s a virgin? Stop lying.”
Kakizaki wrinkled his nose. “It’s true,” he insisted. “I asked him myself. He’s in for murder, right? He didn’t have any experience when he got into jail at 19, so you can be almost sure he’s never done it with a girl. He said he’s never done it with a guy, either, so he’s gotta be a virgin.”
Kumon crossed his arms and chuckled humorously. “Twenty-eight and virgin, huh. He’s got a big one down there. It’s a shame he hasn’t made good use of it.”
“Size doesn’t matter. It’s all about the skill, mister.”
The conversation was turning into something Douno preferred to stay out of, so he pretended to concentrate on his book. So far, Douno had dated three women and had sex with two of them. It was perhaps fewer than most, but he did have some experience.
“Hey, Mr. Douno,” Kakizaki drawled. “If you let a guy like Kitagawa with a big dick and no experience bone you, you’ll tear your ass, no mistake. Take someone who’s a decent size with some skill instead, like me―”
Kumon smacked Kakizaki over the head.
“Don’t even think of coming onto Douno in front of Kitagawa, you hear? You’ll be killed.”
“I know that,” Kakizaki whined, cradling his head. “That’s why I’m doing it when he’s not here.”
Shiba, who until then had been a staunch listener, thumped his book shut and sighed.
“To me, it seems like it’s just Kitagawa’s one-sided thing. At least, I know Douno doesn’t have those feelings for him. Right, Douno?”
“Well, I guess,” Douno replied vaguely. Kakizaki did not look convinced, and glanced at Douno doubtfully. Douno lowered his eyes back to the pages of his book and pretended not to notice. He mulled over whether he should make Kitagawa stop kissing him so people would stop getting the wrong idea.
Kitagawa returned from his gathering before noon. Immediately upon his return, he fished out of nowhere three individually-wrapped square cookies about five centimetres wide. The four inmates’ eyes were instantly glued to the cookies. Sweets were a rare luxury in prison. Excluding those who absolutely hated them, every prisoner eventually began to crave something sugary.
At first, Douno had a hard time understanding prisoners’ burning desire for sweets, but now he knew. It was a physical craving.
“What’s this?” Kumon asked, swallowing hungrily.
“I got leftovers from the party. This is for Mr. Shiba, Mr. Kumon, and Kakizaki.”
Douno was stunned that his name was not called. The other three inmates glanced at him guiltily, but finished the cookies by themselves.
Douno tried not to look at Kitagawa and the other three as he wondered why he did not get a cookie. Kitagawa had favoured him so far; why was this time different?
Was Kitagawa doing this to spite him? Was this his way of getting back at Douno for treating him crudely despite Kitagawa’s persistent confessions of love?
Once he finished sharing the cookies with everyone else, Kitagawa sat down beside Douno as he usually did, and cuddled up to him playfully. Something still nagged at Douno’s heart.
Even as night fell and he climbed into his futon, Douno still thought about the cookie from earlier in the day. He felt miserly for being so fixated about a cookie, but it bothered him nevertheless. He could not, however, bring himself to ask outright why he had been left out.
The footsteps of the night guard doing his rounds faded into the distance. Douno sensed the man beside him shifting, and rolled over on his side to turn his back to him.
The man stroked his hair and nuzzled his cheek. Douno usually ignored him and waited for it to pass, but today he felt he could not stand it. Douno yanked his futon over his head, prepared to receive a warning from the guard if things came to it.
But his futon was pulled back down just as forcefully. Douno knitted his brow and screwed his eyes shut.
“Want something good?” said a voice at his ear. Douno opened his eyes.
Kitagawa was holding a cookie―the same one he had shared with everyone else in the daytime, excluding Douno. He could smell the sweet aroma as it was brought to his nose. Douno found himself opening his mouth before even saying thank you.
“Finish it before the guard comes around again,” Kitagawa said. He bit down on one end of the cookie, then thrust it out in front of Douno’s face. He jerked his chin in a signal to hurry up. Douno hastily sank his teeth into the cookie. He took one bite, two―he was planning to stop before their lips touched, but his greed got the better of him―his lips brushed against Kitagawa’s. Suddenly, Kitagawa leaned in for a deeper kiss. He weighed down on Douno, and parted his lips. His tongue stirred the inside of Douno’s mouth, sweet from the cookie he had eaten.
It was a strange feeling. Kitagawa had given him a cookie after all. He had a special spot in Kitagawa’s heart―the thought made him feel happy and relieved. Once his stubbornness in that aspect crumbled, Douno was conscious for the first time that he was kissing another man.
The other man’s breathing, his scent, the heat of another’s living flesh―Douno felt his groin begin to itch, and his whole body flushed hotly in embarrassment at his own reaction. He tried to pry the other man off him, but his arms were trembling.
Kitagawa, however, seemed not to notice Douno’s response; once he had ravaged Douno to his content, he promptly returned to his own futon.
Douno did not know what to do with his hardened member. If he stood up to grab a tissue, it would be too obvious; if he left it as is, he was bound to ejaculate in his sleep. Douno managed to lay still and think of other things until the impulse passed. That night, he had a dream: it was a very realistic one of being fondled by Kitagawa until he came.
Although Douno admitted to himself that he was now aware of Kitagawa in a sexual way, he never dared to say it out loud. To him, it wasn’t a normal thing to be approached romantically by another man and then imagine oneself having an orgasm at the hands of the same man.
Sometimes when Kitagawa kissed him at night, it was such a deep and tenacious kiss that Douno felt his groin stiffen in pleasure, but Kitagawa always returned to his futon promptly afterwards without going any further. Douno began to wonder if Kitagawa’s body was not having the same kind of response as his.
Didn’t Kitagawa’s lower regions go through the same natural biological reaction as his did? What if his didn’t? ―It made Douno feel like he was the only perverted one, which was depressing.
Kitagawa was used to living in a cell, which meant he could ejaculate within seconds at will in the washroom stall. That was probably why he was less frustrated―that was what Douno told himself to reassure his spirits.
Despite the slight change in his heart, the days went by unchanged as usual. Winter passed, and with March came the hints of spring. Douno was down to the last three months of his sentence, and he submitted a “hair growth” slip. Inmates on their last three months were allowed to apply for permission to grow their hair out in preparation for their release. Douno was sincerely gratefuly that he would not have to be released with a shaven head, an obvious trademark of someone who had served time.
Kitagawa’s mood turned foul ever since Douno began to grow his hair out. That was not to say he released his frustrations through violence, or was uncooperative in any way, but if Kitagawa had been a man of “few words” until now, he now turned into a man of “barely any”.
Every time someone commented that Douno was down to his last 80 days, Kitagawa fixed him with a glare. After a number of such incidents, everyone stopped mentioning Douno’s release around him.
One night, Douno woke to Kitagawa kissing him. He was lucid, but unable to tell if this was real or an extension of his dream. Douno found himself pushing his own tongue against the slippery one inside his mouth. Normally, he would not respond to the other’s actions, because he knew it would make Kitagawa get carried away. But day after day of the same advances along with the countdown until his release had loosened Douno’s emotional restraint.
It felt good to intertwine their tongues as they kissed. Douno thought he was still dreaming; he wanted more, and he hungrily pulled the other man’s head closer. After a long kiss, he was hugged so tightly he thought he would suffocate, and his shortness of breath finally woke him up completely.
When he realized that the man was real, Douno panicked a little. Kitagawa was always cautious of the patrol officer, and at most he only sneaked the top half of his body over to Douno’s side so that he could return to his own futon quickly. But this time, for some reason, Kitagawa had crawled all the way into his futon.
Douno flushed with embarrassment as he felt Kitagawa’s knee nudging his crotch. His groin was stiff as if in sync with the sensual kisses he had devoured.
When he resisted, he was met with a kiss. With their lips still locked, Kitagawa pressed his leg against Douno’s crotch. As the man’s thigh rubbed against his erect member, Douno’s lower part, long deprived of stimulation, gathered heat and turned hard.
“Stop―” he pleaded in a whisper, “my pyjamas―they’ll get dirty.” The thigh stopped moving, but instead, a warm hand slipped into his pyjama bottoms and wrapped around the tip of his penis, its fingertips tightening around the tapered part.
Unable to contain it anymore, Douno released himself into Kitagawa’s hand. He was kissed again before the heat could fade, his tongue caught up, and a shiver ran down his back.
Amidst it all, Kitagawa abruptly slipped back to his futon. The patrol guard came around moments later. After the guard had gone, Kitagawa got up and washed his hands. Douno covered his ears, not wanting to hear the sound of the water.
Kitagawa returned to his futon after washing his hands. Douno was still covering his ears when Kitagawa closed his hand around Douno’s right wrist. His hand was cold, like the water that had run over it. But soon, it too became warm.
They held hands until morning. Douno tried to let go many times, but each time, Kitagawa re-clasped his hand tightly.
They had exercise period that day. Douno had a foreboding feeling about being alone with Kitagawa. He tried to start a conversation with Shiba instead, but Kitagawa caught him before he could. He was led away by the hand to the wall, and drawn unnaturally close. They sat down.
“I thought I was the only one who felt good while we kissed,” Kitagawa murmured quietly. Douno knew the man was talking about his erection during their kiss last night. He stared at the ground.
“You’ll be leaving in a little while, Takafumi. I don’t wanna be apart.”
“I can’t help it.”
“I don’t wanna be apart.”
The man squeezed his right hand.
“I don’t wanna be apart,” he said, almost in a plea. Douno’s heart trembled. The man had been abused by his mother, framed as a murderer, and lived his whole life without knowing the warmth of another human―and this man was relying on him. When Douno thought of that, he could not help but want to do something for him.
“You’ll be out in another year, too. Then we could meet outside the walls.”
“Will you be with me when I get out, Takafumi?” the man asked, peering into his face. Douno thought about what he meant by “be with me.”
“If you mean live together with you, I can’t do that. But I’m sure we can meet up once in a while and chat―”
“I want to live with you.”
“Two men living together? It’s not right.”
“Kakizaki said some homo couples move in together.”
Douno was stunned to be called homosexual. He had never thought of himself that way, and he had only compromised to being kissed because he did not want to cause unneeded trouble.
“I’m not a... well, I’m not homo.”
“You got a hard-on kissing a man. You have to be homo.”
Douno felt himself blush to his ears. “I―I thought you were someone else.”
The lie rolled off his tongue easily.
“I have a lover waiting outside for me. She―she’s a woman, of course. And we’re dating with plans to get married.”
Kitagawa’s face paled in an instant. Douno never saw anyone’s expression change this clearly before.
“―That’s why I can’t live with you, but let’s―let’s be friends.”
Kitagawa looked down with his mouth still half-open. He cradled his head in his arms, and curled up into a tiny ball. Douno banished the sight from his line of vision and pretended to focus on the softball game.
Perhaps Kitagawa was shocked to know that he had a lover; for a while, the man was quiet. He stopped making overly intimate contact, and stopped kissing him at night.
Kitagawa constantly had a difficult expression on his face, as if he were deep in thought, and he spent every spare moment staring at Douno. Douno continued to mark off each day on his calendar while feeling some discomfort at the man’s persistent gaze. It happened one evening after dinner, when he was down to less than two months to his release. The other three men in the cell were talking about an inmate from the cell next door, who had been thrown into solitary confinement. Douno was reading a book. Kitagawa was beside Douno, staring at the book in his hands.
“My sentence ends next August 15,” Kitagawa told him suddenly.
“Mid-August. When I get out, Takafumi, I’ll come see you.” His tone was set.
“Sure. We should meet up and talk.”
“Are you gonna live in an apartment?”
Douno wondered why he would ask, but answered anyway.
“Most likely, yes. My parents retired into the country, but I’ll only cause them trouble if I move back in with them. Besides, I think there would be more job opportunities in the city.”
“Are you gonna live with your girlfriend?”
Until Kitagawa mentioned it, Douno had completely forgotten his lie about having a girlfriend.
“I’m not sure about that.”
“If you’re living alone, I wanna live with you.”
“You can’t. I’ll be―”
“It only has to be until your girlfriend moves in, or you two get married. If your apartment’s too small, I can live in the closet. If I can work, I’ll pay you.”
“That’s not what I was talking about. I―”
“Once you get married, I’ll move into the apartment next door. I won’t cause you trouble. If I can just see your face once a day, I’ll be okay.”
Douno fell silent. He had no answer to give.
“I thought about lots of things,” Kitagawa said. “And I still want to be with you.”
Douno clasped his hands and rubbed his thumbs together on the table.
“Uh, well, I’m glad to know that you like me, but―”
“If we’re living together, and you want to bring your girlfriend home, and you guys want to have sex, I’ll go out until you guys are done.”
“Excuse me a minute,” Douno said abruptly as he stood up to go to the washroom, unable to bear the awkwardness any longer. But even when he returned, the heavy, suffocating atmosphere remained unchanged.
They sat in silence until rest period rolled around. They cleaned the room, changed, and laid out their futons.
“Hey,” Kitagawa said, as Douno lay in his futon with his eyes closed. “Everyone says it’s weird, but I really used to think I wouldn’t mind living here for the rest of my life. Sometimes it can get too hot or too cold, but I never have to worry about having enough to eat. Even if I get out, I’d have nothing I want to do. But when I thought about how I could live with you―stick close to you all day long if I wanted, and never get in trouble for it―then I started wanting to go outside.”
Douno felt like this was something he was not allowed to hear, but he could not ignore it. He knew the man was serious.
“Even after you said you had a girlfriend, Takafumi, I kept thinking and thinking. But no matter how much I think about it, I still want to be with you.”
Kitagawa fixed his gaze on Douno.
“Takafumi, I’m always thinking of you. I think of you the moment I wake up until when I go to sleep. Does your girlfriend think of you as much as I do?”
“I’m going to sleep now,” Douno said, and closed his eyes. Once he said so, Kitagawa stopped trying to talk to him. Douno thought of the man beside him while he kept his eyes shut. Though ridden with guilt at the lie he had told, he had no intention of going back on his word.
On their weekend off work, Kitagawa and Kumon left to watch a movie for their second-class gathering. Kumon seemed excited to go to his first party.
Of those who were left behind, Shiba and Douno took to reading their books. Kakizaki perused a car magazine, but seemed to tire of it quickly. He reshelved the book and began trying to start a conversation with Douno instead.
“What’s your girlfriend like, Mr. Douno?”
Douno looked up from his book.
“I heard from the bro,” Kakizaki drawled. “You’re gonna get married after you get out? She mus’ be a nice girl. Still willing to wait for a guy who’s got a criminal record.”
“Yeah, I guess...” Douno answered vaguely. He had never expected Kitagawa to tell anyone else about his haphazard lie.
“Oh, but you bet I was surprised,” Kakizaki continued. “I thought all this time you and bro were together. You guys were gettin’ it on at night, weren’t you?”
“Well... that was...”
“I was so jealous, y’know. But then suddenly a while ago, bro stopped being all over you like he usually is. I thought it was weird, so I asked him about it, ‘n that’s what he told me.” Kakizaki shrugged. “I dunno, man. Bro’s done some daring stuff, but he gets hung up about the tiniest things sometimes. He should just separate what goes on in the walls with what goes on outside.”
Suddenly from this point, Kakizaki lowered his voice into a whisper.
“Aren’ you frustrated now that you’ve stopped doing it with bro? Y’know, just saying, I’m pretty good at giving head.”
“I’m not interested in that kind of stuff.”
“But you were doin’ it with bro, weren’t you?”
Douno had nothing to say in return.
“I think you got the potential for it, Mr. Douno. I saw you a couple times being kissed by bro, and you looked like you were enjoyin’ it.”
“That’s enough,” Shiba warned. “Douno says he’s not interested, and if Kitagawa’s going to give up, then that’s good for him.”
“Yeah, but bro’s definitely still hung up about it. I woke up one night to take a piss, and I saw bro just staring at Mr. Douno. I wondered if he was gonna jump him, but he didn’t. He just watches.”
They heard voices in the distance doing roll call, and soon Kitagawa and Kumon were back. Kumon was talking animatedly about the snacks he had devoured, but Kitagawa only silently stared at his feet.
At night, Douno woke up to someone shaking his shoulder gently. Something was pushed up against his lips, and the moment realized it was a cookie covered in chocolate, he had drawn it into his mouth. He ate it discreetly as to not make noise. Kitagawa silently watched Douno eat.
“Is it good?” he asked. When Douno nodded, Kitagawa smiled slightly, then looked down.
“Thanks, but you don’t have to do this anymore,” Douno said in a low voice. Kitagawa looked up. “You don’t have to bring sweets for me. You’ll go through hell if you get caught.” He knew how contradictory he sounded by saying so after he had eaten it.
“I don’t care if I get punished,” Kitagawa said emotionlessly. “I can’t think of anything else that might make you happy.”
Douno dropped his gaze.
“I love you, Takafumi, but―”
He looked up.
“It hurts to be in love, doesn’t it?” Kitagawa said. “Takafumi, do I have to feel like this the whole time I’m in love with you?”
Douno was at once overcome by an urge to run away, but at the same time, he felt his heart being wrenched by the man’s earnest confession. He could feel Kitagawa’s pain―enough to make him want to give back at least a little.
“It only has to be while we’re here,” Kitagawa mumbled. “Think about me more than your girlfriend. You don’t even have a month left in this place. Just until then.”
A firmly-defined period of time. Douno thought to himself. He wants me to ‘think about him’, which is just a matter of feelings. If my one word is enough to satisfy him, he thought, then―
Kitagawa’s head snapped up.
“If it’s only while we’re here―”
Kitagawa had been leaning forward, but he now threw his arms around Douno and pinned him down, startling him. Douno was met with a deep kiss―so deep he could not breathe. He had figured “thinking about” was a matter of the heart, and did not expect it to include anything in the physical sense. Kitagawa kissed him over and over amid ragged breaths. Douno could feel the weight on top of him, and the man’s grinding hips. Douno’s groin stiffened at the stimulation to the erogenous spots inside his mouth. In the end, he was discovered by Kitagawa, who came crawling into his futon.
“So I can make you hard, too.” Kitagawa’s hand pressed his crotch through the fabric. Douno averted his face from the man in front of him.
“I just thought you were someone else―”
Douno avoided the man’s eyes.
“My girlfriend,” he murmured.
“I’m―I’m not lying.”
“Your eyes were open while we were doing it. You know it’s me, Takafumi.”
Cornered into a tight spot, Douno chewed his lip, but the other man’s tongue pried his mouth open. Douno was unable to raise a voice, or even resist, as the man’s fingers plunged into his pyjamas. The hand grasped at his core so tightly it hurt, and rubbed the length of his shaft.
A violent pleasure coursed through his body that made him almost lose his senses. He was close to ejaculating, and his spine had started to tremble when Kitagawa abruptly slipped back into his own futon.
“Wh―?” Douno’s pyjama bottoms were still pulled down, underwear and all; the tip of his upturned penis rubbed against his blanket. He heard the footsteps of the night patrol officer. He couldn’t wait for the guard to pass. Douno wrapped his fingers around his own member, and pressed down on its tip. He released the sticky liquid into his hands. Once he had gotten it out, he realized he needed to wipe his hand, but could not get out to fetch a tissue. He waited for the guard to pass, but before he could stand up, Kitagawa came crawling back into his futon again.
Kitagawa noticed the clear change in Douno’s penis.
“Did you do it yourself?” he murmured.
When Douno did not answer him, Kitagawa pulled down his pyjama bottoms about halfway, then rubbed his own erect sex against Douno’s groin.
Kitagawa thrust his hips for a few minutes before Douno felt something warm dripping down his crotch. Kitagawa got up languidly to retrieve a few tissues from his shelf, and wiped Douno’s crotch down. After another deep kiss, he went back to his own futon, and tried to go to sleep holding Douno’s right hand.
That hand was still dirty with his own release. Douno resisted, but Kitagawa pried his fingers open by force.
At the sticky sensation, Kitagawa finally seemed to realize why Douno had kept his right hand in a stubborn fist.
“Is this yours, Takafumi?”
He did not answer. The man then stuck out his tongue and gave his hand a lick.
He shivered as the man licked him between the fingers. Kitagawa licked everything clean before he closed his fingers firmly around Douno’s hand, and closed his eyes.
It was just a matter of the heart. A matter of feelings―this was so for Douno, but different for Kitagawa. His level of physical intimacy escalated even more than before Douno had mentioned having a lover. Kitagawa’s advances were glaringly obvious, and he appeared not to care about the gazes of everyone else but the guard. Douno began to feel ostracized even within their cell.
When they were together, it was as if Kitagawa had to be touching some part of him in order to be satisfied. He would hold hands, or lay a hand on his shoulder; once, he had even pretended to talk to him only to playfully bite his earlobe instead.
Kisses were often, and not even at night anymore; Douno was startled when Kitagawa kissed him suddenly after dinner. Their cellmates were also wide-eyed with surprise. Even if he asked the man not to do it in front of people, Kitagawa brushed it off by saying no one cared anyway.
By now, Douno had a more-than-good idea of just how much Kitagawa was infatuated with him. No matter when or where, the man only ever looked at him. He really, truly only looked at him. On top of it all were Kitagawa’s repeated confessions of “I love you” and “I’m in love with you”―it was enough to sway even someone who was not particularly so inclined.
In fact, “swayed” was precisely the effect on Douno. His aversion to kissing in public waned gradually the more times they kissed. By now, he had also gotten used to Kitagawa crawling into his futon every night and stripping him nearly naked.
Kitagawa began drawing again. This time, it was a floor plan of a detached house―a small bungalow.
“This is the entrance. If you go down the hallway, the kitchen is on the right side, and across from that is the living room. The room beyond that is the room where you sleep. The bath is here, and the toilet is next to that.”
Kitagawa explained every little detail to Douno.
“I’ll have a fence all around the house. And I’ll plant a tree in the yard. I’d want a tree that blooms. Like cherry blossoms, or something.”
Kitagawa happily went on to fill in his drawing with various things.
“I want a dog, too. A big one. And then in the evenings, we’ll take it out for walks together.”
Douno was unsettled at the way Kitagawa talked about something that could be his fancy or his dreams. There were only a few dozen days left of their promised relationship, yet Kitagawa spoke as if it would last forever.
“Hey, how much do you think a house like this would cost? About 3,000,000? I think my work wages’ll add up to about 300,000 by the time I get out. D’you think it’ll still be hard?”
“I don’t think you’ll be able to buy a house with 300,000...”
“I could live under a bridge if it was with you, but you’d probably be cold. Plus, you get sick really easily.” Kitagawa threw a glance behind him before nipping at Douno’s neck, then sucking it so hard it almost hurt. A quiver ran through Douno’s back.
“Do you remember our promise?” he said.
Kitagawa tilted his head.
“You know, that this is... only going to be while we’re here.”
“I think―” Kitagawa dropped his gaze. “I’m thinking, once I get out, I’ll have a talk with your girlfriend. For her, she might be able to be with someone other than you. But for me, it has to be you. It just has to be.”
“And what happens to my feelings?” Douno asked.
Kitagawa glanced up at him from under his eyebrows.
“But you love me, too.”
Douno widened his eyes at the statement.
“You wouldn’t be so kind to me if you didn’t love me.” Kitagawa licked Douno’s cheek and nudged it with the tip of his nose, as a dog would express affectionate familiarity.
Suddenly, a siren went off. Everyone, taken by surprise, broke into a buzz. Kumon pretended he was standing at the toilet and peered into the hallway. He told them no one had entered or left this floor. It looked like there was a dispute on some other floor or wing.
Douno was just thinking of how unnerving the sirens were, when Kitagawa grabbed him by the right hand.
Without even answering, Kitagawa squeezed Douno into a narrow space between two futons folded up against the wall. Without a moment’s pause, he plunged into a kiss, then yanked down the bottom of Douno’s uniform, underwear and all.
Douno’s resistance was swallowed up in a kiss. The man’s hands slid underneath his shirt and pinched his nipples so hard they hurt.
“The guards don’t come around for a good while when there’s a commotion,” Kitagawa muttered at his ear, then hoisted Douno, who was pushed up against the wall, onto his lap. He pushed his erect member up against Douno’s, and moved up and down in a fierce rhythm. Everyone’s watching―the thought made Douno struggle fiercely, but no matter how much he did, Kitagawa refused to stop. Douno was forced to ejaculate under the glare of the fluorescent lights.
As he sat still in shock, Kitagawa kissed him while he slid his fingers, wet with their semen, to the spot deep between his legs beyond his scrotum. Of all the times Kitagawa had fondled his genitals, he had never touched that area.
The man’s fingertips teased his anus, and entered it slightly. Douno kicked both his feet in protest.
“It doesn’t hurt with fingers, does it?”
“It―it feels gross―”
Kitagawa erased all inconvenient pleas with kisses, and had his way with Douno’s body. With two fingers, he gently coaxed Douno’s anus. It felt disgusting and he was sure of it, yet when one of those fingers pressed a tingling spot inside him, he found himself erect again. Everyone’s watching. Douno closed his eyes in humiliation.
The man’s fondling fingers withdrew from inside him, and the moment he thought it was over, next he felt a shock of dull pain in his lower half. Douno’s whole body shook as he realized that he was being penetrated.
Even though he tried to shove Kitagawa away, the force drawing him closer was stronger.
“It―it hurts,” he cried in pain, and Kitagawa kissed him in answer. While they kissed, he jerked Douno’s hips in a steady rhythm. He’s horrible, Douno thought. They lived together and bathed together, and were used to seeing each other naked. But sex was different. This was public rape.
Kitagawa shuddered, still holding Douno in his arms. Some moments later, he finally pulled out. Kitagawa gave Douno a long kiss. Then, with a tissue, he gently and thoroughly wiped away the mixture of semen and blood that dripped from Douno’s lower region.
Kakizaki could be seen scrambling into the toilets. Kitagawa rearranged Douno’s clothes, and he was taken back to his seat at the table as if nothing had happened. The whole time, Douno had no idea what to say.
He had been ravaged but a few metres away from everyone, in plain view, yet he was not even allowed to run or hide. Douno was overcome with such embarrassment, humiliation, and shame that he placed both hands on the table and put his head down on top. His lower region ached.
“Did it hurt?” the man asked, nestled up against his back. Douno had no spirit to answer. “But they say it’ll stop hurting once you get used to it.”
Tears spilled from his eyes. His shoulders trembled, and he knew not whether he was angry or embarrassed.
“Kitagawa.” Shiba spoke up from his silence. “You didn’t have to do that just now. Think about how poor Douno would feel.”
“I can understand doing it at night, or when no one’s looking. Imagine being forced to spread your legs while everyone’s watching. It’s embarrassing.”
Kitagawa fell silent. Douno still had his head down on the table. The man brought his lips up to his ear.
“I love you,” he murmured.
Douno curled up in his futon the moment rest period was called. He got up twice, however, to go the toilet. He had a strange case of something like diarrhoea, and he felt a burning pain in his anus every time he squatted. When he walked, the pain made him bend forward, and it was unbearable for him to be seen in public like this.
Kitagawa repeatedly said “I love you” as if it were an excuse, but Douno ignored him by lying on his stomach and pretending he was asleep. When the room grew dark at lights-out, Kitagawa immediately climbed into Douno’s futon. When Douno struggled and tried to kick him out, Kitagawa kissed him and held him tight.
No matter how many times the man whispered “I love you” in his ear, Douno did not respond to his kisses. Once Kitagawa sensed that Douno was in a bad mood, he reluctantly returned to his own futon. Next, he attempted to hold hands, but Douno did not even allow that.
In the middle of the night, Douno woke to a strange sensation between his legs. He felt like someone was fondling his penis. When felt between his legs with his hand, he was met with the gritty sensation of hair. He felt a flash of anger at Kitagawa for sneaking around with his body, even after he had refused so vehemently. No matter how forcibly he tried to shove the man’s had away, it showed no signs of letting up.
“Kei! Kei, stop it!” he scolded in a whisper. But the man did not listen.
The voice from below was not Kitagawa’s. The realization made Douno freeze in shock.
“Just head, Mr. Douno. I won’t ask for your ass. Just a little bit, please.”
“No―stop! Stop it!” As soon as he realized it was not Kitagawa, Douno felt a wave of disgust as goosebumps rose on his skin.
“Get the hell off me!”
“Just a little bit, please.”
They repeated this attack-and-defence, until suddenly the futon was thrown aside. Kakizaki snapped his head up from where he had pulled down Douno’s pyjama bottoms and been sucking at his crotch.
Kitagawa was standing over them, feet apart, glaring at Kakizaki with glinting eyes. He ruthlessly kicked the man off of Douno. Kakizaki gave a short cry of pain and curled up. Kitagawa grabbed him by the front of his pyjamas, yanked him off the floor, and delivered a punch to his face. Kakizaki went flying all the way to Kumon’s futon across, waking the man up.
“Wh―what the hell?”
Kakizaki gave a shrill cry of fear and hid behind Kumon. Kitagawa dragged him back out, and delivered two more hard cracks to his face.
“B―bro, I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry!”
Kitagawa ignored the man’s excuses and continued to hit him. Then, he grabbed the man’s head and smashed it against the wall. Kakizaki slid to the floor. Kitagawa still tried to lunge at him, but Shiba grabbed him by the armpits from behind.
“Calm down, Kitagawa!”
Kakizaki dashed into the toilet while Shiba was restraining Kitagawa.
“Hey! What the hell is going on here?” the night guard shouted from outside. Kitagawa, by now even deaf to the guard, wrestled free from Shiba and was at the toilet stall in a flash. He kicked the door down and burst inside.
Kakizaki’s bloodcurdling screams echoed. The sirens blared, and a clamour of footsteps approached. The door opened, and four officers burst in to seize the two men and drag them out of the washroom.
Kakizaki’s face was bloodied, and he was foaming at the mouth. Kitagawa struggled violently. Even with four guards restraining his arms and legs, he thrashed fiercely like a shrimp. One of the guards aimed a kick at the struggling man’s ribs. There was a resounding crack, and Kitagawa’s movements stopped for a moment.
“P―Please, don’t hurt him!” Douno begged, running up to them.
“Don’t move from the wall!” the guard snapped, slapping him across the face. Kitagawa, on seeing this, began to resist even more aggressively. The guards teamed up to assail him with punches and kicks.
Kitagawa went limp, and was dragged out of the cell like a sack of potatoes. Douno thought he heard someone call his name, and shook free of the night guard’s restraining grasp to burst out of the cell.
“Takafumi, Takafumi,” a voice desperately cried as it grew smaller and smaller into the distance. Douno was shoved violently back into his cell by the night guard.
Kakizaki was taken to the infirmary, and Kitagawa was taken to the interrogation room, leaving three members remaining in the cell. They tidied the room at the guard’s orders, then were commanded to go back to sleep.
Even after he had settled back into his futon, Douno could not sleep. He was worried about Kakizaki’s wounds, but more than that, he was beside himself with worry at the thought of the kind of cruelty Kitagawa might be going through. He prayed desperately that they had not imprisoned Kitagawa in a secure cell like they had done to him.
Three days passed after the incident, then four―but neither Kitagawa nor Kakizaki showed signs of returning. On the fourth day, Kakizaki’s belongings were removed entirely. Douno was shaken―perhaps the man had died? However, Shiba told him he had only been moved to a different cell, which Douno was relieved to hear.
Amidst all of that, a new inmate moved into their cell. He was a forty-year old man caught for possession of stimulant drugs. He was slightly overweight, and his nose always had an oily sheen like the wings of a cockroach.
Three weeks passed without a sign of Kitagawa’s return. Douno was down to less than a week until his release. He had figured Kitagawa would return while he was still here, but that seemed like an unlikely possibility now. He heard from inmates in other cells about someone who had gotten punished for fighting with a cellmate. That man had gotten one month in light solitary confinement.
Douno thought of asking Shiba to pass along his parent’s home address to Kitagawa after he came out of solitary. There was also the option of writing it on one of Kitagawa’s belongings in the cell, but if it was caught in an inspection, it would put Kitagawa in a bad position. In comparison, asking Shiba to pass it on orally was a safer and more reliable method, but one had to choose his messenger carefully. There was always the possibility of his address being used for unsavoury purposes, like what had happened with Mitsuhashi.
During exercise period, Douno took Shiba aside from the softball game he had been watching, and led him to a remote corner of the grounds. There, he tentatively asked if Shiba would tell Kitagawa his address once he came out.
Shiba appeared to be turning it over in his mind.
“I’m fine with that, but are you, Douno?”
“Fine, as in―?”
“I’m asking you whether you’re willing to have that kind of relationship with Kitagawa even after you get out of prison.”
It was a frank question. Douno looked at his feet.
“Personally, I think it’s better if you just keep it inside the walls as just a prison thing. I’m not saying Kitagawa’s a bad person. I’m just saying that people’ll appear different out there as opposed to in here. Out there in your world of choices, are you still going to be able to choose him?”
Douno hesitated. Until now, he had been so occupied about telling Kitagawa that he had never considered the option of not telling.
“If you’re not prepared to be with him for the rest of your life, just call it quits. Same goes for the friends-only thing. Kitagawa isn’t the kind of guy who can draw the line like that.”
Shiba went away, leaving Douno alone to think by himself. He thought about whether he really loved Kitagawa. At first he had thought Kitagawa was an unfeeling man. Then, he saw him as a kind, but also pitiful, person. He wanted to be nice to the man, but were there any romantic feelings attached? Perhaps he had only pitied Kitagawa’s unhappy past, and been swept up by their extraordinary circumstances.
Where did these feelings come from―his longing to see Kitagawa’s face, his desire not to make this a permanent goodbye? No matter how much he thought about it, no clear answer took form inside him.
On the day before his release, Douno was transferred to another cell. On the day prior to that, Shiba had come up to him after dinner.
“Now you’re really a step away from getting out, huh,” he had said. Then, they had exchanged some small talk.
If you’re still planning to tell Kitagawa your address―perhaps that was what Shiba had meant when he approached him. Douno did not give him an address. But at the same time, that did not mean he had decided to end his relationship with Kitagawa altogether.
Douno was released on June 5. As he walked down the long, silent hallway, he thought he heard Kitagawa’s voice. He turned around. There was not a shadow of anyone there.
His parents and sister had come to pick him up outside the walls. Douno wept in spite of himself at seeing the three. He went to parents’ house in the country, tasted his mother’s cooking for the first time in a long time, and later nodded off into a relaxing slumber. He woke up once in the middle of the night. He had been sleeping with his futon over his face. He hastily pulled it down below his chin, then realized he was not in prison anymore. He smiled wryly.
Less than a month after his release, Douno began working as an accountant for a food product company. Immediately after his release, he had registered in a support group for people falsely accused of groping, and he had gotten this job through an introduction by a group member.
Along with the start of his new-found job, Douno moved out of his parents’ house and into an apartment. He worked while participating actively as a member of the support group.
In his third month of work, he was confessed to by a woman at his workplace seven years his junior. Kitagawa crossed his mind for an instant, but Douno could not deny that he found the small, delicate girl attractive.
He was never quite able to refuse her completely, and they began dating. Douno’s memories of prison never left him, but they grew faint as each day passed. Nevertheless, he was still traumatized by crowded trains, and he could not bring himself to ride them.
One year passed after Douno was released from prison. Less than a month before Kitagawa was set for his release, Douno’s girlfriend told him that a child was coming. She was two months pregnant. Douno was afraid that her parents might object because of his past sentence―albeit an unjust one―in prison. However, her parents accepted him. Wedding preparations and procedures were decided in a flurry, and through the hurried succession of days came August 15, the day of Kitagawa’s release.
Douno had promised nothing, but when he thought of how the man probably had no one to greet him, he was overcome with pity. When he imagined the man standing forlornly by himself outside the penitentiary, it grew almost unbearable. Douno wanted to be the one person, at least, who would be there to greet Kitagawa. He got ready to go out. But as he sat on the edge of his bed, he found it hard to stand up again. Kitagawa would be released at 10 o’clock at the earliest. It would take two and a half hours to get there by bullet train, which meant Douno had to be on the 7 o’clock train. But his legs refused to move.
Time passed even as he simply sat there. Douno wanted to see him, wanted to see his face―but at the same time, he was afraid of meeting him in person.
He was no longer living in the future that Kitagawa wanted. The two of them would not be able to live together. Would Kitagawa still be happy to be greeted by him?
Why couldn’t we be friends? We could have been together for longer that way. I know it would have lasted longer than a romantic relationship.
In the end, even after the sun had set, Douno did not get up from the edge of the bed. His chest burned as tears unwittingly sprang to his eyes, but he could find no words to explain why he was crying.
Read the next part, "The Fragile Swindler" PART 1.
* See the project page for In the Box (Hako no naka).