Yuto covered the lower half of his face with his left hand.

“Stop looking at me,” he mumbled in a muffled voice.

“What’s to be bashful about?” Dick sniffed derisively.
“You’re acting like a girl who’s had her bra snatched.”

Yuto felt his cheeks burn, but not from anger.
It was from intense embarrassment.
He felt uneasy showing his clean-shaven face; it felt akin to standing stark naked in front of everyone.
None of the people here had seen him without his beard, after all.

The mood was lively for a while on the topic of Yuto’s face.
Yuto was eager to glean some information about Henry Galen from Tonya, but it was difficult to find the chance.
He cast his thoughts around on how broach the topic, and was still doing so when the curtain was suddenly swept aside to reveal a young man.

He was the pretty man who had been with Galen earlier.
The man took an imperious sweeping glance around the room.
When his eyes fell on Dick, he suddenly grinned.

“I see you’re visiting, Dick.
No wonder it was noisier than usual.”

“Hey, Lindsay.
How’s it going?”

“Not bad.”

Lindsay was not wearing makeup like the other sisters, and wore her prison uniform normally.
The lack of embellishments was not due to her lack of fashion sense; on the contrary, she seemed to be flaunting her confidence in her beauty ― as if to say she knew she was already more beautiful than anyone here.

The black sister who had shaved Yuto’s face spoke up.

“Lindsay,” she said sharply.
“What do you want?”

Lindsay threw a cold glance at her, then turned to Tonya, instantly rearranging her face to look earnest.

“Tonya, listen to what happened to me.
Just the other day, I gave in and went to bed with Sammy Porter because he wouldn’t stop bothering me about it, and guess what? He didn’t even pay up! It’s unbelievable, I’m furious! Won’t you talk to him for me?”

“I can’t believe what you’re doing,” Tonya said in exasperation.
“You’re still selling yourself when you have Galen? You know the trouble you’ll get into if he finds out, don’t you?”

“I’ll be fine.
But won’t you ask Sammy to pay up for me? I’m sure if it’s coming from you―”

“No,” Tonya said coldly.
Lindsay’s face fell instantly.
“You know, if you were a poor sister who’d been raped, or had an incident with a non-paying customer, I’d put myself on the line to stand up for you.
But you’re out there still doing business when you’ve already got a man who can take care of your every need.
I don’t have time to be taking care of whores,” she spat.
“Come talk to me again when you’ve cleaned up your act.”

Lindsay glared at her, her eyes fiery with wrath.

“Oh, is that so? Fine.
I won’t ask you for favours anymore.
I know you’re still sore about losing Galen to me.
Aren’t you ashamed of holding such a petty jealous grudge against me?”

Tonya appeared unfazed, but the other sisters were quicker to rise to anger.

“You shut your mouth, pussy!”

“You think Tonya’s still attached to a piece of shit like Galen?”

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It was as if someone had prodded a hornet’s nest.
Lindsay seemed overwhelmed by the storm of insults, and angrily turned on her heel and walked out.
Even after she left, the sisters’ wrath showed no signs of settling.

“Ugh, the nerve of her! The bitch gets under my skin! Tonya took such good care of her, and this is how she repays her.”

“I hope Galen finds out she’s been whoring so he can kill the brat and be done with her!”

Yuto observed the sisters venting out of the corner of his eye as he nonchalantly started a conversation with Tonya.

“Galen’s the leader of ABL, right? What kind of guy is he?”

Tonya shrugged and ground out her cigarette.
“Sentenced to life with no parole.
He murdered three black men.
He’s certainly got the smarts to be the boss of an organization, but he makes a dangerous boyfriend.
He’ll murder someone and laugh while he’s doing it ― he’s vicious.
He’s nice and sweet on the outside, which is why Lindsay probably underestimates him.
But she’ll come to regret that soon.”

A brutal man who wielded the leadership skills to head an organization ― the glimpse of Galen’s face which Yuto had gotten in the rec room last night overlapped with his impression of a ruthless Corvus.
If he were alone with Tonya, Yuto would have liked to cut to the chase and ask her if Galen had a burn scar on his back.
Although it wasn’t in his records, it was possible that he had gotten a burn after getting into prison.

The tea party wrapped up sometime later.
The sisters all flocked to Dick and Yuto for kisses and handshakes before they reluctantly left Tonya’s cell.
Every sister gave Dick a somewhat bashful smile.
Dick patiently played the perfect prince for the ladies, maintaining a smile and gentlemanly manner as he dealt with each and every one of them.
It was an unusual sight considering how brusque he usually was.

“Nice to the sisters, aren’t you?” Yuto said, his voice slightly tinged with criticism.
Dick instantly wiped the smile off his face and looked at Yuto with the usual cold, expressionless eyes.

“It’s a man’s job to be kind to a lady.”

“Like you’ve got any right to say that.”

“Dick knows the kind of pain the girls go through,” Tonya said.
“No matter how well you go about your business, selling yourself comes with its share of violence.
That usually means frequent visits to the infirmary.”

Yuto could not help but feel a mixture of regret and pity at Tonya’s words.
Although the sisters acted cheerful and carefree, behind the scenes they experienced staggering hardships that came with living a life in the shadows.

“Thank you for coming today, Dick,” Tonya said, kissing him on the cheek.

“I enjoyed myself, too,” said Dick, returning her kiss.
Tonya gave Yuto the same farewell before letting a humorous smile grace her features.

“What?” Yuto asked.
“Is there something on my face?”

“No, quite the opposite,” said Tonya.
“You actually look pretty cute without your beard.
How old are you, really? Around twenty-five?”

“Give me a break, Tonya.
I’m twenty-eight.”

“Oh, really? You’re only a year away from Dick, then,” Tonya said, looking back and forth between the two.
Then, she showed a smile even more enthralling than before.
“You’re different types of handsome, but you’re both just as attractive.
Seeing you stand together like that makes me almost forget that I’m in this dreary hellhole.”


“Falling hard for Tonya, Lennix?” Dick murmured in a teasing voice as soon as they left Tonya’s cell.
Yuto was weary at having the joke rehashed again, but also a little glad that Dick was beginning to warm up towards him.
So, instead of showing his displeasure, he decided to wear a purposely indifferent expression.

“I’d say you’re the one falling for her.
That’s why you keep teasing me about it.”

“I agree, Tonya’s pretty attractive, but unfortunately I’m not interested in ladies.”

Yuto was at a loss of how to interpret those words.
He furrowed his brow as he looked at Dick.

“Do you mean that as in, you’re not interested in fake women?”

I mean exactly what I said.
I’m gay.”

Yuto was more exasperated than surprised at how casually Dick had just come out to him.
“Did you really want to say something that important in a place like this?” He couldn’t believe that Dick had the guts to divulge his sexuality mid-walk, in a hallway filled with inmates walking back and forth.
These issues were supposed to be extremely delicate.
Yuto had always believed they had to be handled as carefully as a live bomb.

“The fact doesn’t change, no matter where I say it.”

“It does matter.
What if someone were to overhear?”

Rape was rampant in prison.
It wasn’t uncommon for inmates to enter romantic relationships for protection.
But once a man was known as gay, he was often seen with a critical eye.
Although hardly logical, homosexual relations in prison were only accepted because they were seen as substitutes in the absence of women.
Sex was the same.
Although inmates were accepting of the sisters, a normal-looking homosexual man was shunned almost to an abnormal degree, and was often called “homo” or “fag” behind his back.

“I didn’t think you were the type to blabber about yourself,” Yuto criticized.

“Stop being absurd, Lennix.
I was only being honest.”

“And I’m telling you you should be more careful,” Yuto said angrily.

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“You’re an odd one,” Dick replied with a shrug.
“Normally you’d expect someone to be shocked or creeped out if he found out his cellmate was gay.
I didn’t think I’d get a scolding for being too chatty.
Didn’t see that coming.”

Yuto felt his temper rise even more as he fixed Dick with a glare.
“Stop shitting with me.
I don’t discriminate toward minorities and I don’t hold any prejudices against people’s sexualities.
That’s not how I work.
But if you ever try to come after my ass, I’ve got my own ideas on what to do with you.”

“Oh? And what are you going to do?” Dick said, looking like he was thoroughly enjoying himself.
Yuto pointed his index finger squarely at Dick’s nose.

“I’ll break your cock in half so you’ll never be able to use it again.”

Although Yuto had meant to sound intimidating, he had gone a little overboard with his forcefulness.
Much to Yuto’s dismay, Dick responded by snorting and bursting into laughter which was hard enough to make his shoulders shake.

“What’s so funny?” Yuto snapped.

“I mean, look at you, you just―”

Yuto’s pride was shredded to ribbons from being subjected to such laughter from a man who rarely even smiled.
He left Dick to his own made to storm off, but was grabbed by the arm from behind.

“Hey, don’t be so mad about it, Lennix,” Dick said.

“You never stop making fun of me, do you, you bastard? The pretty face doesn’t give you a free pass to do whatever the hell you want.”

“I know it doesn’t.
And I don’t always make fun of you.”

“Liar,” Yuto retorted.
“On my first day here you made some joke and said you’d protect me if I agreed to be your bitch.
And don’t say you don’t remember,” he said accusingly.

“I was half-serious about that, actually,” Dick said with a straight face.


“I thought I’d be nice and make a sacrifice for my poor fellow roommate who was being preyed on by BB.
No one would make a move on you if we pretended you were my girl.”

“You’re horrible, you know that? Did you think I’d appreciate being picked up out of pity?”

“What, you’d rather I pick you up because I was serious about it?” Dick said without missing a beat.
Yuto felt like throwing his hands up in frustration.
Dick had a comeback for everything he said.
This man of few words was apparently a smooth talker once he was in the mood to argue.

“Well, I figured you’d say no, anyway,” Dick said.
“But now you’ve learned the hard way how important it is not to let your guard down in this place, right?”

“Oh, you bet,” Yuto said sarcastically.
“Thank goodness I share a cell with a wonderful guy like you to teach me.”

“No need to be such a sour puss.”

“You can thank yourself for that.”

Perhaps Dick was not as bad as he thought.
But he certainly wasn’t a good guy, either.

“Hey, I know I’m not exactly the ideal companion,” Dick said, “but that’s just how I am.”

“Oh, good, you know you have a problem.
Work on fixing it.
Oh, and Dick, don’t even think of making eyes at me.

“I won’t.
You’re not my type, anyway.
It’d be lot more fun trying to pick up a kid like Matthew.”

Yuto wasn’t sure whether to be glad or offended.
He maintained an unimpressed expression as he tossed a glance at Dick.

“What?” said Dick innocently.
“You don’t believe me? I’ll swear to God if you want me to.”

“You’re Christian?”

“No, I’m atheist.”

“You bastard.”

Dick was a funny guy once he opened up.
But much of him was still shrouded in mystery, and it was hard to grasp what kind of person he really was.
Yuto wondered if he would understand Dick better someday, when they were close enough to be completely honest with each other.

Some deeply-rooted force seemed to make Dick turn people away and maintain a distance with them.
Yuto could see the same trait in every inmate in varying degrees, but in Dick’s case it was different.
He didn’t put up walls with an obvious pessimistic attitude, nor did he obstinately refuse to interact with others in the uniquely stubborn way that inmates did.
Although Dick was willing to let in those who approached, he also seemed to take a subtle step back each time, making the distance feel unchanged.

Yuto’s handsome, cold-eyed cellmate was a man filled with mysteries.
He lingered in Yuto’s mind and was a bothersome existence.
Like Corvus, but for entirely different reasons.

To be continued

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