Content warning: Rape

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Yuto’s fever continued to run high the next day.
It took him until the third day until he was finally able to get up from his bed, but his fever still hadn’t come down completely.
Unable to stand by and watch any longer, Dick invited Yuto to the infirmary to get checked out by a doctor.

Normally, you had to first talk to a guard and get permission, then sit patiently in front of the infirmary until your turn came around.
But thanks to Dick’s connections, Yuto was able to be seen by a doctor outside normal examination hours.


As they left Block A together and were walking down the hall, they coincidentally crossed paths with Neto.

“Yuto, you aren’t looking too well,” Neto said.
“You sick?”

“He’s been running a fever.
I’m taking him to the infirmary,” Dick answered.
Neto looked concerned as he pressed a hand to Yuto’s neck.

“Solitary must have been rough on you.
You better get it checked out properly.”

“Thanks, Neto, I will,” Yuto nodded.

Just then, they heard a sharp whistle behind them.
Yuto turned around to see BB standing there with his fellow gang members.
Yuto felt his heart sink wearily.
BB was the last guy he wanted to see right now.

“Hey, Libera, that’s my bitch.
Who said you could touch him?”

“Quit the bullshit, BB.” Neto retorted.
“Yuto is my friend.
Don’t think you can order me around.”

The men from the Black Soldiers and Locos Hermanos faced off against each other, flanking their leaders.
The hostility practically radiated off of them; you could almost see the sparks.
The air was tense, like things could explode at any moment.
However, the mood was soon broken up by Whistle, a guard who was passing by.

“What are you doing here?” Whistle snapped as he brandished his baton.
“No stopping in the hallway! Get moving!”

BB ignored the guard completely.
He continued to glare furiously at Neto, and spat at the man in disgust.

“Libera, you’re not getting off easy for this.
You best be prepared to face the consequences.
Yuto, you too.”

The swarm of Black Soldiers disappeared.
Neto wore a severe expression as he warned Yuto to be cautious.
He then left along with the Locos Hermanos members.

“You’re like Helen of Schelger Prison,” remarked Dick when they were alone again.

“Helen? You mean like Helen of Troy?”

BB and Libera staring each other down like that, and you standing between them… you’re starting to look a lot like the beauty who reduced a country to ruins.
With Helen it was Troy.
With you, I feel like you’re planting the seeds of conflict in this prison.”

“Stop making things up to blame it on me,” Yuto shot back.
“The gangs have always been in conflict with each other.
Besides, Neto’s just a friend.
BB is another matter.”

Dick cocked an eyebrow sceptically at him, but resumed walking without saying anything.
Yuto sighed inwardly.
Dick had been so gentle when he was sick in bed, but now that he’d improved somewhat, he was back to his aloof self.
He was a man of two faces.

Back when Yuto was sick in his cell, Dick had sneaked out of work many times to see how he was doing.
He would give Yuto medicine that he had brought from the infirmary, bring his meals to his bed, and help Yuto change out of his damp, sweaty shirt.
Dick cared for him so devotedly that it made Yuto feel almost guilty.

But as Yuto recovered, Dick returned to his usual brusque self. Is this the same man that fed me water from his own mouth? Yuto thought, feeling an anger that he knew was completely unjustified.

Perhaps Dick was simply the type who couldn’t help but care for those in need.
If so, it made sense why he worked so hard at the infirmary.

So Dick wasn’t being kind to him especially, after all.
That feeling, almost like betrayal, was so pitiful that Yuto couldn’t bring himself to acknowledge it outright.
He was acting like a needy child seeking a parent’s attention.

Yuto despised Dick for stirring his emotions like this.
His irritation was so strong that it significantly toned down the budding affection he’d been feeling toward the man.

For the rest of the way to the infirmary on the third floor of the central wing, Yuto didn’t say a single word to Dick of sheer stubbornness.
Dick didn’t seem to notice.
Yuto felt idiotic for being the only one to feel so impatient about Dick’s attitude.

Once inside the infirmary, Dick turned left to the door of what looked like an examination room, and knocked.

“Spencer, it’s me.
I’m coming in.”

At the back of the room, there was a white man in his mid-forties in a lab coat, sitting in a chair and staring intently at X-ray images.
His hair was disheveled and he was growing a stubble.
It was probably the same doctor who had done Yuto’s medical check when he was admitted to prison, but if it weren’t for his lab coat, he wouldn’t have thought that this shabby-looking man was a doctor at all.

“Oh, Dick.
It’s you.”

“Is that Jason’s foot?”

He got surgery to fix it in place at a hospital outside.
Whoever operated must have been a quack, seeing as it’s still not mending.
Sucks for Jason, but he’s gonna have to go under the knife again.”

“I’m sure he’d cry from joy.
―Hey, do you think you can take a look at him? He’s my cellmate.”

Dick made Yuto sit down in a chair.

“You must be Yuto Lennix, then?” Spencer gazed at him benignly.

Nice to meet you.
Sorry for bothering you during a long work day.”

“Wow, we’ve got a polite gentleman here,” Spencer remarked.
“Not something you see in these parts.
I’ve been working here for five years, but this is the first time I’ve heard a peep of consideration come from any inmate.”

Spencer directed Yuto to unbutton his shirt, and put on the stethoscope that had been hanging from his neck.

“Must be tough being cellmates with Dick, huh? Stubborn and aloof.
Not to mention his enormous attitude.
He’s always ragging on me about how I’m an incompetent bottom-tier doctor,” Spencer quipped jokingly.
Yuto smiled.

“Rich coming from you,” Dick responded.
“I’m always running around working myself to the bone on your orders.
Anyway, I’m going to check out the other rooms.”

Once Dick left, Spencer began his consultation.
Since Yuto was showing no other symptoms apart from his fever, which was already coming down, Spencer said he should have nothing to worry about.
Just in case, however, he told Yuto that they would take blood and urine samples to be sent for lab testing.

“Well, since you’re already here, why not get an IV drip before you leave?” said Spencer lightly with a smile, in the same way he would probably ask Yuto to stay for coffee.
As Yuto lay down on the examination bed, Spencer himself prepared the IV trip and inserted the needle.

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“Don’t you have a nurse?” Yuto asked.

“We have one, but he’s on his lunch break.
He’s another arrogant one.
I’m at the bottom of the pyramid here, even though I’m the doctor.
Poor me, right?”

Yuto took a liking to Spencer for his cheerfulness and lightheartedness.
Although he didn’t know much about Spencer’s skills as a physician, he found the man appealing as a person.

“So it seems like Dick was constantly sneaking out to check on you yesterday,” Spencer said.

“I’m sorry.
It must have caused you trouble.”

“No, no, I don’t mind.
I kind of enjoyed it, actually.
Seeing Mr.
Cool Guy running back and forth between here and your cell, all out of breath.
You should’ve seen the look on his face when I asked if he’d fathered a baby no one knew about.
He looked so embarrassed.
Kinda made me feel good.
He’s always the one bullying me, after all.”

Contrary to his words, Spencer’s eyes twinkled with mirth.
Clearly he had the confidence and big heart to accept Dick’s insolent attitude.

Once the IV drip was finished, Yuto thanked Spencer and put his shirt back on.
When he asked the doctor if he could say goodbye to Dick before leaving, Spencer good-naturedly told him that he should take a peek in the room next door.

Yuto went to the next room.
He quietly opened the door to see rows of numerous hospital beds.
He couldn’t see who was in them, since they were each hidden by cloth partitions on each side, but they were probably occupied by inmates recovering from injuries or illness.

He heard a voice coming from the first bed on the right.
It was Dick’s.

“Don’t lose hope.
That’s no attitude to have for a man like you.
Everyone’s waiting for you to return.”

Dick’s voice was filled with gentle compassion.
Yuto couldn’t help but prick his ears.

“Dick, it’s alright,” responded a man’s voice weakly.
“I’m finished.
I know myself best.
…I’d like to see Libera again.
He probably knows I don’t hold enough authority anymore, but I want to explain to him in my own words.”

From their conversation, Yuto guessed that Dick was talking to Choker.

“Alright, I’ll let him know,” Dick said.
“Anything else I can do for you?”

“Let’s see… can you ask Nathan for some books? A novel or something that’s calming for the soul…”

“No problem.
I’ll drop by again.”

The curtain was pulled aside as Dick emerged.
Behind him, a bony, shrunken black man lay in bed.
Dick nodded when he noticed Yuto, and quietly drew the curtain behind him.

“Was that Choker?” Yuto asked once they had exited the room.

He’s deteriorating quickly, and he’s losing hope.
Back when he was well, even Libera would keep a distance.
He was the most influential man in this prison – and now, he’s but a shadow.”

Dick shook his head slightly in pity.
Even Yuto, who wasn’t familiar with the circumstances, could tell that Dick himself was also invested emotionally in Choker.

“You heading back to the cell?” Dick asked.

“Yeah, but before that I’m going to stop by the library to see Nathan,” said Yuto.
He wanted to get in a word of apology to Nathan for being absent from work for so long.
“I’ll get going, then.
Thanks for everything,” he said.

Yuto turned his back to Dick and began walking.
He was only a few steps in when Dick called out his name.


He turned around, but all Dick did was stare at him silently.
His face was grim, almost like he was seeing something dangerous creep up on Yuto from behind.
For a moment, Yuto had an urge to look over his shoulder.

“What?” Yuto prompted apprehensively.
Dick finally opened his mouth.

“…Just be careful.
Don’t let your guard down around anyone here.”

Yuto was perplexed at Dick’s obvious warning.
It would have made sense if Yuto had just been admitted, but he had been here for over a month now.

“No matter how trustworthy someone seems, no matter how friendly he is, how much he approaches you with a smile – never trust someone off the bat.”

Without waiting for a response, Dick disappeared back into the infirmary.

Yuto found it strange that Dick would be giving him this warning now of all times.
However, he took it as Dick’s way of warning him not to become lulled into complacence because he had gotten used to life here; it would only risk getting involved in unwanted trouble.
Yuto decided to head straight to the library.

The library was divided into two rooms – one with books for general reading and the other filled with legal books.
It was empty, perhaps because it was close to lunchtime.
Yuto threaded through the stacks and stepped into the legal library at the very back.
There was no one there.
The legal library was connected to a small room, which Yuto headed for next.
Nathan used this room to hold interviews with inmates.

Yuto went to knock on the door, but paused when he heard voices arguing inside.
The door was slightly ajar.

“Don’t get ahead of yourself – not everything is going to go your way.
It was a massive accommodation we had to make on our part just returning Libera to the general holding cells.”

It was an overbearing man’s voice.
Although it was lowered to a quiet hiss, it was obvious from his aggressive tone that he was furious.

Corning,” responded a mild voice.
That was Nathan.
“As I explained to you many times before, Libera’s release will have positive results for the prison itself, too.”

“But if something happens, who’s going to be held responsible? Me.”

“I think you have more important things to do than fear for your position.
―Will you please excuse yourself? Imagine if someone were to see the warden himself trying to negotiate with a lowly prisoner like me.
He’d make a good laughingstock.”

Sensing one of the men standing up from his seat, Yuto back away and hid himself amongst the book stacks.
The door opened, and Nathan stepped out with the other speaker.

It was indeed Richard Corning, the warden of Schelger Prison.
Yuto had hardly seen him around the prison since the last time they had spoken when Yuto was admitted.
He only saw Corning occasionally at large assemblies, where he would give opening speeches looking pompous.

Once Corning disappeared, Yuto waited a short time before knocking on the door of the room.

“Nathan, it’s me.”

“Oh, Yuto.
Come on in.”

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Nathan was sitting at his desk browsing through a bundle of papers.
Yuto hesitated, but nonchalantly broached the topic.

“I ran into the warden just now.
He looked like he was in a bad mood.
Did something happen between you?”

Nathan gave an exasperated smile and a short sigh.

“The warden and I get into disagreements pretty often.
You know how I handle inmates’ human rights issues and litigation, right? Sometimes I get the prison to commit to improving inmates’ accommodations as a condition for withdrawing our case.
In some instances, I’ve leveraged issues like inmate abuse by the guards – stuff that would cause an uproar if it leaked to the public – and used it to force the warden to accommodate.
Threatening him, pretty much.
I know it’s underhanded, but my purpose isn’t to go to court.
It all comes down to protecting inmates’ rights.”

Yuto had no idea that Nathan had been taking such a tough stance when negotiating with the prison.
Nathan was more than just gentle; Yuto felt his respect for the man grow even more.

“Lately, legal libraries in prisons everywhere have been shrinking,” Nathan continued.
“The Department of Corrections and certain politicians want to suppress inmates filing suits.
To them, legal libraries are pesky because they give knowledge that they don’t want inmates to have.
Inmates’ rights are being diminished more and more.”

Nathan threw the documents down on the desk and stood up slowly.
He looked melancholic as he walked up to the window and stared outside.
His face was troubled.

As Yuto watched Nathan’s lonely figure turned away from him, he wished he could further understand what the man was going through and encourage him.

“Nathan,” Yuto said.
“Remember what we were talking about at the cafeteria? How inmates are purposely being increased to promote the prison business? Can you tell me more about that?”

“Are you interested?”

Yuto nodded.
Nathan smiled and retrieved a folder from the cabinet.
It contained an orderly assortment of various graphs and detailed numbers.

“You’ll find all the detailed data in here.
America’s inmate population of 2.2 million is a little abnormal.
Our country only makes up 5% of the world population, yet we have 25% of the world’s prison population.
If you only heard these numbers, you would just think it’s because of America’s high crime rate, right? But America’s crime rate isn’t really that much higher than the rest of the world.
There are many countries that have higher occurrences.
But only in America are inmates increasing at a horrifying pace each year.
You couldn’t build new prisons fast enough to hold that many people.”

“So you’re saying it’s just the rate of incarceration that’s abnormally high?”

No country likes an increase in convicts.
Normally, it would do everything it can to decrease those numbers.
But this country has turned the situation on its head and made the prison industry one of its biggest businesses.
It’s profitable, after all.
There’s been a slew of private companies that have caught on and entered the prison business.
They receive set management fees per head for each prisoner, and then make those prisoners work for a pittance – 10 to 30 cents per hour.
Support services that provide food, medical care, daily necessities, and transportation to prisoners also enjoy a boost.
There’s also going to be a large demand for security products like high-voltage fencing, handcuffs, stun guns, and bulletproof vests.
For corporations, being a prison industry conglomerate is a huge business with a lot of potential profit to be made.
But corporations aren’t the only ones enjoying the windfall.
Municipal governments will, too.
If they’re successful in attracting a prison to their jurisdiction, there’ll be an increase in jobs to construct it.
Once it’s complete, it’ll continue to facilitate employment because the prison will need to be staffed.
Inmates will be counted as part of the municipality’s population of residents, so they’ll even get a boost in subsidy from the federal and state governments.
For the country and for corporations, inmates are an essential raw material – golden eggs, if you will.”

Although Yuto was aware of the increase in privately-owned prisons, he had never seen it as much of a problem.
But if the prison industry had grown into such an essential, fundamental component of America’s economy, perhaps Nathan was right – there was something very wrong.
Although it would be natural enough for a corporation to profit as a result of an increase in inmates, increasing inmates in pursuit of profits was getting defeating the purpose of prison.

“Criminals deserve to be punished,” Nathan said.
“But who’s going to regret and reflect upon their crimes when they’re thrown into prison solely to be segregated from society, and don’t even receive rehabilitative education? Just think about it – inmates who are treated unfairly and abused are only going to let their anger and dissatisfaction fester.
As a result, they’re going to develop an even more antisocial mindset.
Unfortunately, human hearts tend to be just as elastic as our brains.
It’ll take the shape of any vessel it’s put into, whether it be round or square.
Humans are controlled by the environment around them.
―Yuto, don’t you notice your mind becoming twisted the longer you live here? Even an honest, straight-laced man like you have probably been influenced by the mindset and actions of the inmates around you.
Can you really say you haven’t been swayed at all by the prison atmosphere?”

“―It sucks to say it, but I can’t.
Right now, I feel like I’d do anything in order to protect myself.”

“And that’s perfectly natural.
If you find out someone is planning to attack you, you’ve got no choice but to get them before they get you.
It’s like a battleground.”

Nathan looked at Yuto and smiled wanly.

“It’s difficult to be yourself in an environment you never wished for, isn’t it? You can say I advocate for prisoners and study about prisons because it’s my own form of escape.
Maybe I’d rather distract myself by putting my efforts into other things, if it means I can stop thinking about the despair that lies before me.”

“Nathan, don’t say that.
You’re an incredible person.
I respect you with all my heart,” Yuto said firmly.
Nathan lightly patted Yuto’s shoulder.

“Thanks, Yuto.
I’m glad you came to talk to me.
Not many inmates are interested in this kind of stuff.”

Just then, Dick rose to mind.
Nathan and Dick often had conversations alone together.

“What about Dick? Don’t you talk with him?”

“Dick isn’t interested in these kinds of issues.
He sees society as an enemy from the start, and think it’s wrong to hope for anything in the first place.
He’s a little biased.
Well, it’s understandable, given his crime.”

Yuto felt a jolt of nervousness.
Nathan knew Dick’s crime.
The truth that had bothered him for so long was now right within reach.
Yuto felt an irresistible temptation.

He wanted to know what Dick had been sentenced for.

“What did Dick do?”

Nathan hesitated, which was unusual of him.
Yuto felt a sudden onset of anxiety and tension.
Was Dick’s crime that unmentionable?

Yuto burned with nervous impatience as he waited for Nathan’s next words.

“He murdered a police officer,” Nathan said.

“What…?” Yuto thought he had misheard.
“What did you just say?” he prompted.

“He killed a police officer,” Nathan repeated, his eyes darkened.
“Dick killed a police officer.
Killing law enforcement carries a severe sentence.
He’s in for thirty years.”

―He killed a police officer.

Yuto’s head was swimming in those words while he made his way back to Block A after parting ways with Nathan.
He didn’t know the circumstances of Dick’s crime, but it weighed on him more heavily than any other.
There was his own past as an agent, but it was also the murder of his partner Paul, which had left an ugly scar in his heart that still throbbed painfully to this day.

Yuto wondered what Dick had thought when he opened up about his partner being murdered.
Did his guilty conscience pain his heart as he reflected upon his own crimes? Or did he coldly dismiss Paul, thinking that a guy with a job like his was a murder waiting to happen?

I know what it feels like to lose a close friend.

Although Yuto believed Dick’s words to be true, he could no longer appreciate them wholeheartedly due to this new discovery.
Yuto stepped into Block A, still annoyed at his own narrow-mindedness.

He inhaled a deep breath as if to ward away his unpleasant feelings.
It was then that he caught a glimpse of Hawes’ bony shoulders.
He watched the man trudge dejectedly into his cell, and remembered how Micky was talking about how Hawes had been depressed ever since Matthew was sent away.

Yuto went up to Hawes’ cell and stopped at the entrance to peer inside.
Hawes was sitting on the bed and staring blankly at a spot on the wall.

How’re you feeling?”

Hawes flinched, although Yuto had meant to speak as quietly as he could.

“Oh, it’s you, Yuto,” he said.
“I’m managing.
How about you? Heard you were in bed with a fever.
You better now?”

“It’s much better.
I heard you’re getting out at the end of the week, huh? Just a little more to go.”

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“Yeah,” Hawes said, his head nodding shallowly.
Although the man was just about to finish up a long sentence and see the light of day at last, his aged face looked anything but happy.
Perhaps he was still worried about Matthew.

“Hawes, I’m sure Matthew will be fine.
He’s still young – he’ll recover and be back to his energetic self in no time.”

“I―I guess so.
I agree, Yuto.
My only regret is having to leave this place without getting to say goodbye to that boy.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll let him know when he gets back.
You can count on it.”

Hawes smiled weakly.
Feeling reassured, Yuto turned to leave the cell, but was stopped this time by Hawes.

D’you think you can come with me to the showers before lunch tomorrow? I need some help washing my back.
Can’t even raise my arms anymore with my stiff ol’ body.”

Yuto knew that Matthew used to help Hawes bathe occasionally.
He reckoned Hawes must be having a hard time without the boy around.

No problem.”

“Much obliged.
I’ll see you at around eleven-thirty, then.”

Once Yuto returned to his cell, he lay down on his bed.
Even the slightest movement made him exhausted, perhaps because of his lingering fever.

“Yuto, are you asleep?” said a husky voice at Yuto’s ear, just as he was about to dose off.
Yuto bolted upright to see Tonya sitting beside his bed.

“I’m sorry.
I woke you up.”

“No, no, I was just… surprised.
Did you come by yourself?”

I’m with one of Neto’s guys.
He’s right outside.”

Yuto glanced outside to see a Locos Hermanos member standing in the hallway with his back to them.
Come to think of it, there was no way Tonya would visit another block alone, since everyone thought she was Neto’s lover.

“I heard you have a fever? Neto was worried.”

“It’s come down now.
I’m fine.
I went to the infirmary to get checked out earlier.
…So, do you have some business with me or…?”

So I can’t just visit you because I want to see you?” Tonya smiled alluringly, making Yuto unwittingly look away.
He felt like he was lying in bed alone with a woman.
As much as he knew that Tonya was a man, it was easy to forget with her beautiful face before him.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” he murmured.
“Of course you can.
I’m happy you took the time to visit.”

“It makes me happy to know that.
Now, about Galen…” Tonya said, lowering her voice.

“Yeah?” Yuto nodded, waiting for her next words.

“There’s no burn scar on his back.”

“But I heard he has a scar from a gunshot wound.”

“He does, but it’s not very noticeable.
It’s from a long time ago.
You’d have to hunt for it to notice it.”

Yuto was crestfallen.
Galen’s gunshot wound was too insignificant to be a physical characteristic.

“Was Galen in contact with others outside?” Yuto asked, still refusing to give up hope.

“No,” Tonya said promptly, shaking her head.
“Galen fell out with his friends outside.
He didn’t seem to be in touch with anyone.
No letters, phone calls, or interviews.”

It was becoming even more unlikely that Galen was Corvus.
Although he had been Yuto’s top candidate, it seemed better off now to simply strike him off the list.

“I don’t know what’s going on, but I hope you find who you’re looking for,” Tonya said encouragingly, patting Yuto’s knee with a firm hand.

I’m glad I was able to talk to you.”

Tonya left the cell, accompanied by Neto’s subordinate.

Now Yuto was back at square one on his search for Corvus, but he had no time to wallow in disappointment.
There were three suspects left.
Right now he didn’t feel particularly suspicious about any inmate out of the three.

He had no choice but to go through them one by one.
Yuto lay back on his bed.
There was Edward Perry, and ex-mechanic.
Carl Bison, a lowly member of ABL.
Michael Becks, who worked in the cafeteria.
Yuto closed his eyes and imagined their faces one by one.
Who was Corvus? Who should he narrow his target down to next?

But no matter how much he stewed in his thoughts, he found himself coming back to Dick.
Exasperated, he inwardly scolded himself to knock it off, but it was ineffective.

Yuto felt a budding urge in his heart to ask Dick outright about the truth of his crime of murdering a police officer.
He was sure that Dick had a necessary reason, and was deep in the kind of circumstances that left him with no other choice.
Dick would never murder an officer without a justifiable reason.
He was not that kind of man―

As much as Yuto told himself so, he knew he was only selfishly trying to reassure himself.
After all, hating Dick’s crime would be the same as hating Dick himself.

He didn’t want to hate Dick.
He wanted to believe him.
He wished he was allowed to believe him.

His desperate wish was not for the sake of Dick, but for his own self who was beginning to be attracted to the man.

“Hawes, let’s head to the showers.”

The next day, Yuto dropped by as promised to pick up Hawes.
Hawes came shuffling slowly out of the cell, holding his towel.

“We should eat lunch together afterwards,” Yuto suggested.

“That sounds good,” Hawes said glumly, in the same depressed mood as yesterday.
His mind was elsewhere, and his face was troubled.
Yuto also felt the same.
He’d been thinking about Dick’s past ever since then, but didn’t have the courage nor the audacity to ask him directly for details.
All this time, he’d been mulling it over by himself.

As they walked down the hall, he heard Nathan’s voice from behind.

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“Yuto, heading for the showers?” he said.
He was carrying a few books in the crook of his arm.

“Yeah,” said Yuto.
“Are you going to the library again, Nathan?”

“I’ll be stopping at the infirmary first.
Dick passed along a request from Choker to borrow some books.
He’s quite an avid reader.
He’s always reading something every day, even though he’d bedridden.
His willpower is admirable.”

After parting ways with Nathan, Yuto remembered what he heard yesterday.
Choker had told Dick that he wanted to read a calming novel.
It was his way of saying that he wanted to reach the end of his life in a serene state.
Yuto had heard that Choker refused to be transferred to an external hospital, and that he had no living relatives.
Perhaps even a place like this was home for him.

The timeslots for the showers were rotated between blocks every week.
Today, Block A had the morning timeslot.
Surprisingly the showers were empty, perhaps because it was close to lunchtime.
As Yuto and Hawes were getting undressed in the change room, one guard named Cowen approached Hawes and clapped him on the shoulder.

“Out in two days, huh, Hawes? Congratulations,” he said cloyingly.
Hawes looked flustered as he mumbled his thanks. 

Yuto did not like Cowen.
He wasn’t a violent man, but instead wore a constant unsettling sneer on his face as he made snide remarks at the slightest things.
Although he treated inmates with contempt, Cowen himself willingly took bribes from the gangs and participated in their bets.
Compared to Cowen, Yuto much preferred an uptight, stubborn guard who barked complaints at them instead.

“You better be on your best behaviour for the next two days.
It’s for your own good,” said Cowen before he left in a good mood.
Yuto, feeling relieved that Cowen didn’t hang around any longer, stripped naked and wrapped his towel around his waist.

He took Hawes by the hand so he wouldn’t slip, and accompanied him to the showers.
Yuto turned the nozzle, and hot water shot out from the showerhead mounted on the wall.
He stuck his hand out to check the temperature before turning back to Hawes.

“Do you want me to wash your hair first? Or your back?”

“Yuto… I… I’m…” Hawes gasped unintelligibly.
He was shaking his head over and over like a broken doll, his face contorted painfully.

“What’s wrong? Are you feeling sick?” Yuto asked anxiously.
Clearly Hawes was not well.
He reached out to touch Hawes’ shoulder, but the man staggered back as if to flee from him.

“I’m sorry… I’m so sorry.
I didn’t have a choice.
Otherwise I’d be stuck here forever.”

Hawes opened the change room door with shaking hands as a group of clothed men burst inside.

Terror pierced Yuto’s heart like ice.
All the men were black – members of the Black Soldiers.

“I’m sorry, Yuto.
Forgive me,” Hawes cried, his face twisted in agony as he hobbled out of the showers and disappeared into the change room.
BB came in just as the man left.
He looked at Yuto triumphantly.

It was then that the realization dawned on him.
He’d been set up.
Hawes, Cowen – they’d all been in on it.

“Hey, Yuto.
Looks like we can finally go on a date,” BB smirked as he came closer.

Yuto knew there was no escape, so he lunged straight at BB without hesitation.
But BB’s men were fast to act, and latched onto him at once to stifle his attack.
Although Yuto fought tooth and nail, his limbs were quickly held down by the stronger, burlier men.
He was made to stand facing the wall.

“Let go! Don’t touch me!” he yelled.

“Keep him still.
He might have a pretty face, but he took down Bernard in one hit.
Yeah, that Bernard.
So don’t let your guard down.”

BB pressed up against Yuto’s back and grabbed his hair, yanking it to make him look up.

“You’ve got some guts to make eyes at Libera, huh? He fuck you yet? What was it like?”

“Fuck you,” Yuto spat.
“We’re not like that.”

“Well, I’ll just have to see for myself, won’t I?” said BB as he wrapped his arms around Yuto’s waist and slowly ran his tongue along Yuto’s earlobe.
Yuto felt goosebumps forming from disgust.
Almost on impulse, he swung his head back and head-butted BB in the face.

“Ugh…!” BB grunted as he staggered back.

“Little fucker!” yelled the man to his right, grabbing Yuto by a fistful of hair and slamming his head into the tiled wall.
His forehead split open and blood rushed out.
The blood ran into his eyes, colouring Yuto’s vision red.
He felt the impact more than the pain, and for an instant he almost lost consciousness.

“This is what you give us for showing you a little kindness, huh? You think you can take advantage of us like that?”

He heard the metallic clinking of a belt being unbuckled.
Yuto felt his whole body seize up in horror.

Not that.
Anything but that.


Yuto could feel BB jamming his rigid member forcefully into the narrow opening.
As the man thrusted aggressively against him, he felt a searing pain ripping through his body.
It was so painful he almost forgot to breathe.

BB thrust himself in and out with brute force.
Yuto gritted his teeth and withstood it.
But no matter how much he tried to suppress his voice, intermittent yelps of pain slipped from his lips.

“…Ugh… ah…!”

He had begun to bleed from the violent motion; after a number of thrusts, Yuto felt a slippery sensation where they were joined.
Ironically enough, the blood acted as a sort of lubricant and eased his pain for a few short moments.
But the unpleasant sensation of pressure from the inside, like someone was stirring his insides around with a flaming rod, was only getting worse.
Yuto began to feel nauseous.

The men around him held him down as Yuto’s body went taut in agony.

“BB, what’s it like inside the yellow bitch?” one man asked him lewdly.

“Damn good.
Nice and tight.
…I could’ve gotten a taste of this sweet ass sooner if Choker didn’t give me shit.”

BB thrust into Yuto with the force of his entire body.
Trapped between the cold wall and BB, Yuto continued to emit moans of pain.

“Shit, I can’t hold it anymore,” BB growled like an animal as he released himself inside Yuto.
He exhaled, seemingly satisfied, and stepped back from Yuto.
The rest of the men flung Yuto aside as if to say they were finished with him.

“Behave, and I’ll be gentle to you next time.
Make eyes at Libera and insult me like that again – you’ll be passed around the rest of these guys next time.
Remember that.”

As Yuto lay on his stomach on the floor, BB spat those last words on him before leaving the showers with the rest of the group.

Even after he’d been left alone, Yuto still could not get to his feet.

His heart was even more tattered than his body.
He had been so thoroughly beat down that he had no energy left to lift a single finger.
Unspeakable defeat and humiliation closed in on him, eating away at his soul.

The stream of water from the shower pounded against the floor, sending a spray that continued to wet Yuto’s body.
Yuto lent himself to the warm rain that soaked him.
He let go of his consciousness, letting himself slip into the deep pit of despair.

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