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Health Fair

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I was reading my email when a popup appeared, reminding me that the first student examination was scheduled for 9am. It was going to be a long day. Many of the students wanted to schedule their wellness exam on the very first day, probably reasoning that it was best to just get it over with as soon as possible. I could understand their anxiety; teen boys weren't exactly known for enjoying intensely personal questions about sex and the associated examinations.

I'd scheduled only one exam per hour despite the pressure to do more each day. I wanted to give each student enough time to ask all the questions he might have and to provide reassurance. If the exams ended up taking less time than planned, then that was fine. I still needed to be available in case of emergencies, and besides, I didn't really want to try and squeeze in upwards of twenty exams per day. I'd go crazy by the end of it.

First up was the student council president, Asahina Yuki. He'd insisted on going first, claiming the slot way back when the student council had first approached me for assistance with their health fair idea. He'd wanted to set a good example for the other students by going first and proving that the exam wasn't a big deal. It was an admirable approach. And it would be good for me to ease into the day with a simple examination as well; with how squeaky clean Asahina was in his dealings with others, I was sure that all I'd end up doing for him was a routine health exam.

Asahina arrived two minutes early, entering the nurse's office with a bit less than his usual amount of cheer. "Um, I'm here for my checkup..." he muttered, poking the floor with his toe.

"Good morning, Asahina, there's no need to be nervous." I picked up my notes and gestured toward the door. "See that door hanger, the one that says exam in progress? Could you put that on the outside of the door so no one will barge in without waiting to be called? And on the way back, just slide that curtain closed. That way, even if someone misses the sign, they won't be able to see anything."

"R... right," he agreed, doing as I asked before coming into the office and settling himself on the edge of the exam table, hands folded tightly in his lap.

"Relax, Asahina, I'm just going to ask you a few questions and do a brief examination. It's just like a normal checkup, so you don't have to worry." I picked up a pen and wrote his name at the top of the question sheet. "And remember, anything you tell me is confidential, plus you're free to ask me questions about anything as well. The doctor-patient relationship goes both ways, so don't hesitate if you want to ask me something. Okay?"

Asahina was more anxious than I'd expected. Maybe he didn't like doctors. Someone like him, with good luck, probably never needed anything more than a routine check, so maybe he just wasn't familiar with typical practices.

"Okay... if I have questions, I'll ask..."

I couldn't remember the last time he'd spoken so quietly. That was understandable; the questions I were about to ask were very personal. I cleared my throat. "This starts off nice and easy. Do you have any complaints about your health right now? Are you feeling well, no aches or pains, no illness?"

"Oh, I'm fine, no problems at all."

"That's good." I made a note on the paper. "Are you up to date on your vaccinations? Well, you don't have to answer that, I saw it in your records. That's all fine."

"Haha, I'm glad you knew the answer to that one, because I didn't..."

Now it was time for the harder questions. "Do you have any questions or concerns about your body's development? Is there anything worrying you?"

"U... Um... it's all normal, I guess. I mean, I haven't really been comparing to anyone else..."

"We can talk more about that during the physical exam." He winced at that, but I pretended not to notice, not wanting to point out his anxiety. "This is just to get a feel for your own thoughts and feelings about your body. If you're comfortable, that's good."

"Yeah, it's good," he repeated, avoiding eye contact. It was like he knew that the more embarrassing questions were coming.

He'd get through it. "Okay, then next, have you ever been sexually active, either currently or at some time in the past?" Asahina's face was a deep red, and he mumbled something that I couldn't hear. "Ah, forgive me, Asahina, but you'll have to speak up a bit more."

"Um," he repeated, soft voice barely audible in the quiet office. "Well, uh... yes."

I blinked, but otherwise showed no sign of my surprise. I'd been the doctor at Bell Liberty for almost a decade, so nothing was really shocking anymore, but his answer was unexpected. I knew that Asahina was popular, though it was hard to tell if any of that interest was actually sexual, or just a tease. Well, I guess I know now. "Okay, I see, and how many partners have you had?"

"Just one!"

"Mmm, good." I made a note. "Male or female?"

If Asahina was red before, he was absolutely scarlet now. "Uh... um..."

His reluctance to give a clear response made the answer obvious enough, but I needed him to confirm it before I could note it in his official record. I tucked my pen into my pocket and leaned forward, trying to catch his eye. It took a few moments, but he finally looked up at me. "Don't feel embarrassed, Asahina, you're here because you're being responsible and taking care of your personal health. There's nothing more important than being honest and open right now. I know it's not a comfortable situation, but I'll do my best to make this easy for you, okay? If you need a little time to answer, just let me know. Remember, I'm here to help you."

"I... I know that," he mumbled. "It's just..." Asahina fidgeted. "I... I have a boyfriend. You won't tell anyone, right?"

"Of course not. Anything you tell me here will stay with me. But I don't think that's something you need to feel ashamed about." I straightened up in my chair again, debating with myself. Of course I wanted to put him at ease, and considering my own situation, it would have been simple. But something always stopped me when it came to talking about myself. People who didn't know me well enough might interpret it as shame or embarrassment, but the truth was that I just didn't like letting others know the details of my private life.

The group that knew about my relationship with Hiroya was rather small. Keita and Kazuki, of course, and it hadn't taken Nao long to figure it out since I spent so much time caring for him. Once Nao knew, it was only a matter of time before Professor Sakaki found out. I'd said something in a call to Nao without realizing that Sakaki was in his office. That would have been fine normally, but Nao had been fond of using the speaker option on his phone. And I supposed that Kasahara could have looked up my profile to see that Hiroya was my emergency contact, though I suspected such efforts would fall under the 'too annoying' umbrella. It was possible that Keita or Kazuki had mentioned it to him, though.

"Um," Asahina's nervous murmur cut through my thoughts. He was frowning, made uncomfortable by the long silence. "Is something wrong, Dr. Matsuoka?"

"Sorry, Asahina, I was trying to decide something."

He really was so much like Keita, not just in the obvious luck, but his genuine concern for others. He'd helped Kasahara more than I could imagine, but the other boys surrounding him seemed improved in various ways as well. Who was there with an encouraging word when Asahina was worried? I was sure his friends supported him, but it seemed that even to Asahina, some things were just too private. And for a normally outgoing boy to be bearing that sort of worry alone, all the concerns that were wrapped up in the reality of having a relationship with someone of the same gender, it had to be too much for him.

I nodded, my decision made. "Let me tell you a little something about myself. It's not really a secret, and it's not something I worry about or that I'm uncomfortable with. But it's private, so I hesitate to talk about it."

Asahina was watching me, his expression serious but almost hopeful, like he somehow knew that whatever I was about to say would relieve his anxiety.

"I also have a boyfriend. We've been together for seven years now."

He looked, well, shocked. "Huh, really?" I could almost see the gears turning in his mind as he thought it over. His surprised look softened to a gentle smile. "I never imagined... and seven years, wow..."

I nodded, surprised at the relief I felt at his positive reaction. A tension that I didn't realize had formed drained from my shoulders. "We met at this school, back when we were both students. Well, it's a long story, and maybe I'll tell it to you some other time. Right now, we need to get through your exam. I just wanted you to know that you don't need to worry about me judging or lecturing you. Now," I picked up my clipboard again, "do you feel ready to proceed?"

"Um, okay..." Asahina seemed a bit less reluctant.

"Regarding sexual activity, have you and your partner engaged in oral or anal sex?"

"Uh, both?"

At least he was talking, even if his voice was rising at the end as if he was the one asking the questions. "Okay, and have you been the receptive or penetrative partner, or both?"

The exam table squeaked as Asahina squirmed uncomfortably. "Ugggh, why do you need to ask such embarrassing things?"

"Because the things I need to check for, and the counseling I offer, are different depending on the types of activities you're engaging in. Remember, I've been a doctor for a long time, and I've heard a lot of things. You're perfectly normal, Asahina... including your reluctance to answer. You're doing fine, just keep talking." I reached up to adjust my glasses and gave him a warm, encouraging smile.

He bit his bottom lip for a few moments before responding. "Okay. W- well... I'm not really confident about doing it, so, uh... I haven't really asked..."

"So I'll mark that you've been the receptive partner during anal sex, then. And--"

"U, um, the other one," he cut me off, face red, "we, we do that both ways... uh..."

I made a note on the clipboard. "That's not uncommon. And what kinds of protection are you using?"

"U- um!" Suddenly Asahina's voice was quite loud, and he was leaning forward. "That's... that's why I really wanted to come here and talk to you! Because... we haven't used anything, and then I was reading all the materials for the health fair, and... and..." His voice faded again. "I started to get really worried..." He was watching me intently, eyes bright as if he was on the edge of tears and looking to me for some words of reassurance.

I took a quiet breath. Probably two inexperienced high school students who didn't know any better; really, didn't they teach these kids anything important in junior high? Pretending that teens weren't interested in sex was... well, I couldn't think of a good metaphor on the spot, so I mentally settled for stupid. "I'm glad you came here to discuss this with me. Can you tell me a bit about your partner, then? Do you know his history?"

Asahina wrung his hands, still staring straight at me. "He's older than me, and a lot more experienced... I don't know h- how many other boyfriends he's had, but there's definitely been others, and I just... I never even thought about it until we started doing the research..."

An older boy, and more experienced. That raised other questions, but I had to deal with Asahina's immediate worries first. "So you're saying that he never offered to use protection, and you didn't know that you could ask him to use it?"

"I feel really stupid now," Asahina mumbled, "but I really didn't know... I just, I mean, I know that stuff exists and all, I just didn't think of it at the time..."

"Have you talked to him about your concerns? Are you still having unprotected sex?"

"No! I mean, yes, I talked to him, and no, we're not... I told him I wouldn't, unless he used something, and unless he got checked too."

I relaxed, just a little. "And he agreed to that?"

"Well, he didn't like it at first, he got kind of mad at me and asked me if I didn't trust him... we had a really big fight."

I didn't like the sound of that. "I see..."

Asahina didn't seem to pick up on my unease. "I do trust him, but everything I read said that there was no way to know for sure without getting tested, and so I said I wouldn't, not until he got checked..."

"Good for you, Asahina, it's important to stand up for your own health. Don't compromise on that." Now it was time for the actual hard part. "Now, you mentioned that your boyfriend is older, and he got a bit upset with you when you asked him about protection. I just want to check a few things with you."

"Um, okay..."

The questions about sex were easy; it was the answers to questions about pressure and coercion that haunted me sometimes, the stories of young boys who didn't even have enough experience to realize that they were being hurt. Bell Liberty was a good school filled with exceptional students, but that didn't mean they were saints or that they'd all come from safe environments.

I took a deep breath before speaking.

"Have you ever felt pressured to do anything you didn't really want to? I'm not just talking about sexual things, but anything at all. Sometimes it's hard to resist the desire to be respectful of someone older, even if they're asking you to do something that's not right for you. If you've felt uncomfortable or unsafe in your relationship, I want to know. Okay?"

He blinked at me, shock plain on his honest face. "No! No, it's never been like that! Everything we do, it's something I really want to do... I was the one who chased after him." Asahina lowered his eyes, cheeks coloring, but his expression was different from the mortified face he'd been making only a minute before. "Um, if anyone's been too pushy about things, it's me. I'm going to try hard not to be like that. I didn't realize that I might be hurting him..."

I couldn't imagine Asahina pressuring a lover, though it was easy to see how his enthusiasm could be oppressive to someone who was less energetic. "The most important thing is to talk to your partner and find out how he feels about it. I can understand being enthusiastic about your lover, especially when a relationship is new."

"Enthusiastic, huh..." Asahina lowered his eyes, a blush coloring his cheeks. "W- well, I'm going to be sure to talk to him more about things from now on."

"That's good, Asahina. Communication is the most important thing in a relationship." I smiled at him. "But I'm sure you already knew that, since you created all the materials for the health fair. Well done, by the way."

"Oh, um, it wasn't just me! Takato and Kuya helped write it all. I don't think anyone would want something I'd written by myself..."

"You give yourself too little credit. Enthusiasm is just as important when it comes to events like this, it helps the students feel more at ease." I turned, setting aside my paperwork. Unfortunately, the next part would probably not be easy for anyone. "That's all for the interview portion of the exam. Based on what you've told me, I'll need to do a physical examination and collect both a blood and a urine sample. Is that okay?"

Asahina stared down at the floor, cheeks and nose red, and let out a shaky breath. "O- okay," he agreed in a small voice. He raised his face just enough to meet my eyes for a second. "I'm going to be okay, right?"

That mournful look and the worry in his voice stung my heart. "Asahina, it would be wrong for me to guess. But I can promise to take good care of you now, and if necessary, later. Coming to see me, and changing your behavior, those are the two most important things. And you did them, even though it was hard. Right?"

He swallowed hard, eyes brimming with tears. "I guess."

"You did," I told him. "So be proud of yourself. And, well... I probably shouldn't say things like this, but you have good luck, don't you? Remember that, and let me take care of the rest."

He glanced at me again, a bit hopeful, and nodded. "Thank you..."

The rest of Asahina's exam was uncomfortable for both of us. Of course, Asahina was anxious and embarrassed - though relieved to hear that my physical exam uncovered nothing unusual - but I was on edge as well. I'd done enough exams and blood draws in my career that my mind was free to wander a bit as I worked, worrying at the question that I knew he would never answer. Who was Asahina's partner, the mysterious older boy who may have taken advantage? But Asahina insisted that he was happy.

But that was the thing. He was happy. I'd heard it over and over again from his friends and even from members of staff. I'd seen it myself as he talked to me about his ideas for the health fair, asking for my assistance with everything from checking facts to offering appointments. Smiling and shining, more than usual, and at the time I'd thought it was the joy of working on a worthwhile project meant to help others. But maybe there was more to it.

By the time he left with a stammered thank you, I wasn't sure what to think. And honestly, my day was too full for me to take time to think about anything but the next appointment.

I'll keep watch over you, I silently promised. Just in case.

~~~

I'd hardly had five minutes to organize my notes and gather my thoughts after Asahina's visit before the start of my second appointment of the day.

"Excuse me," a calm voice called out as the office door opened, and Takato Masatsugu, the student council secretary, stepped inside. He was a tall boy - though calling him a boy at his height and build seemed a bit improper. If I remembered correctly, Takato was one of the tallest students in the school, and with his strong, solid build and serious manner, he was rather imposing. "Hello, Dr. Matsuoka, am I too early?"

"No, not at all, you're right on time. My last appointment ran a bit long, that's all."

"Asahina, was it?" I wasn't quite sure how to read Takato's expressions, since I rarely interacted with him, but his faint smile seemed somehow smug. "Well, I appreciate your thoroughness, Doctor. This event will be a success thanks to your expertise and guidance."

"Yes, thank you, Takato. Please take a seat on the exam table and I'll get started right away. I'm sure you'll want to get back to your class as soon as possible."

"Yes, that's true," he agreed, sitting down as requested.

An older boy, and one with a rather forceful presence. It was true that Asahina was close to his fellows in the student council, and with Takato's odd reaction to how I was running a bit late after Asahina's exam... maybe there was something to it. Of course, it wasn't good to make assumptions based on appearances or attitude.

"As I'm sure you know, this is a standard set of questions, so I'll just go through them one by one and we can take our time on each as needed."

"That sounds reasonable." Takato reached up to adjust his glasses, and I unconsciously mirrored the gesture.

"First, how is your health in general right now? Are you feeling well with no aches or pains, good appetite, no trouble sleeping, any general complaints about things like that?"

"My health is fine at the moment, thank you. I had a bit of a cold last month, as you probably remember, but with your treatment and advice it cleared up quickly."

"Ah, yes, that's right. Glad to hear it." I noted his answer on the paper. I didn't bother asking about vaccinations, everyone present at the school right now was up to date, so I wasn't sure why I'd even left that one on the list. "Next, any questions or concerns about your body's development?"

"No, I've done my own research if I've had any concerns."

I nodded. "That's good. And please remember that I'm always available as a resource as well, if you ever need me."

"Of course."

"Those are the easy questions," I said with a smile, but Takato didn't return the expression, just sitting patiently and waiting for the next one. Ah, yes, he was a bit stern, wasn't he? Best to just dive right in, then. "Have you ever been sexually active, either currently or in the past?"

"No," he answered simply.

A bit surprising, but I'd been a professional long enough that I didn't even twitch an eyebrow. "Okay, that means that your physical exam today will be a general checkup, then, unless you've already had one in the past six months."

"I have. I saw my regular doctor over the summer break."

Part of me wanted to ask then why are you here? but I already knew the answer; the entire student council had decided to get checked on the first day in order to set a good example for the other students. I was fairly certain that Takato had been pushed into it by Asahina and Sagimori, and maybe he'd just gone along with it quietly rather than revealing any personal information. He seemed the type who liked to keep intimate matters close to his own heart.

"I see. In that case, let's talk a bit about dating. Are you seeing someone right now, or do you have plans to start dating in the near future?"

"Not right now, no. I plan to focus on my studies until graduation."

Then it really was pointless. I clipped my pen to the clipboard and set it aside. "In that case, the rest of these questions don't apply to your situation. Unless you have any questions for me, or if you have any other health-related concerns - physical, mental, or sexual - I think we're finished. Of course, I'm not trying to dismiss you before our time is up, but the majority of the questions really only apply if a student is sexually active or thinking of becoming active soon."

"No, that's fine, Dr. Matsuoka. I really only came because Asahina and Kuya insisted that I participate in the screening." Takato stood, adjusting his uniform jacket. "I'm sorry for wasting your time, I know you have many other appointments scheduled for today."

I stood as well. "Not at all, I'm happy to be part of your wellness event. You've all done a good job of distributing flyers and information. I don't mind being busy at all if it means I can be of assistance to the students."

Takato held my gaze for a few moments, almost as if testing me, then nodded. "Yes, thank you again. A number of the students at this school, particularly the younger ones, are rather vulnerable and naive when it comes to relationships. And I also appreciate that you opened the screenings up to teachers and staff as well. This may be a fairy tale school, but after all, we're all only human. Sometimes things happen."

What was he getting at? "Yes, you're welcome. I'm here to help, after all."

After he left, I wondered just what the point of that whole awkward exchange had been.

~~~

An eager student burst into my office a full ten minutes before his 11am appointment.

"¡Hola! Hi there, Dr. Matsuoka! I hope you don't mind me being a little early!"

As expected, the vice president of the student council was early. Sagimori Kuya - or Kuuuuuuuya, as he'd signed the email he'd sent to reserve the third slot of the day - was the student council vice president and a rather interesting boy. Rumor had it that he sent dozens of emails every day, keeping up with friends all over the globe, as well as maintaining good grades, participating in student council, and practicing fencing at a world-class level. And he did it all with a level of energy and enthusiasm that was almost exhausting to witness.

If Sagimori had a lover, he'd wear that poor person out in a month, unless they were someone just as bubbly and spirited. Which made me think that maybe...

No, I wouldn't make assumptions.

"Hello, Sagimori, I expected you to be early so I'm ready to start at any time. Please, sit here on the exam table and we can get started right away."

"Okay!" Sagimori hopped up and sat cross-legged on the table, leaning forward with a big smile. "So, I'm ready for your embarrassing questions! Do your worst!"

I sat down opposite him and picked up my clipboard. "First, how's your health in general lately? If there's any issues, I'd like to know about them before we get into the details."

"Oh, I'm completely fine! Best shape of my life, really, it's because I make sure to get plenty of sleep every night and I keep up with my exercise during class!"

I raised one eyebrow. "You exercise during class?"

He nodded, smiling as if he'd been waiting for me to ask. "Of course! I'm careful not to disturb others or make noise, but there's plenty of exercises you can do even while seated! There's leg extensions, and thigh squeezes, and if I sit way in the back of class, I can even get away with some seated lifting! Though, the teachers don't really like that..."

I could imagine. "Sagimori, it's good that you're passionate about exercise, but please be sure to maintain a proper focus in class without disturbing others. That includes the teachers."

"Of course! It's just so hard to keep up with everything I need to do every day..." Sagimori was quiet for a moment, then he smiled again. "Oh, well, I'll manage it!"

"That's a great attitude to have," I murmured, "and if you don't mind, I'd like to go through the checklist here so you can get back to your busy day."

"Okay! Bring on the awkward sex questions!"

In a way, Sagimori's forced enthusiasm was better than pulling answers out of reluctant students, but there was something a bit sad about it. "First, do you have any concerns about your body? I realize that you're nearly eighteen now, so you've had time to adjust to all the changes--"

"No worries, everything is good! Of course, I couldn't help checking out things online and comparing myself to average sizes and stuff like that. I'm happy to report that everything is within the expected ranges!"

Somehow I resisted the urge to sigh. "Well, it's good that you're using online resources, but remember that there's no real substitute for professional guidance, so feel free to come to me if you have any detailed questions."

"Understood!"

"And, of course, there's the main question which will determine how the rest of this interview will go. Are you currently sexually active, or have you been in the past?"

"Nope!" Sagimori's bright smile and cheery tone were disarming, especially for that question, which most boys his age would be a bit flustered to answer in the negative.

So. He wasn't Asahina's partner either. It was someone outside of the student council. I wondered if it was one of Asahina's close friends, or if, after all, it was a boy he'd met outside of the school. That made sense, of course an outgoing boy like Asahina had friends from his previous middle school, and knowing him, he'd probably kept in touch. But wait. His boyfriend was older.

"Um, Dr. Matsuoka?" Sagimori was pouting a little at my lack of response. "Did you hear me?"

"Ah, yes, I did. I apologize, Sagimori, I have a lot on my mind thanks to all the preparation I did for this campaign." I held up my hand as he opened his mouth to protest. "I'm happy to be assisting the student council, but that doesn't mean I didn't have to work hard to get ready. Honestly, I'm grateful that you chose such a meaningful topic this year. I feel like this will be a great service for all the students."

That restored Sagimori's mood. "Yeah, I think it's great too! At first I thought Masatsugu was going a bit too far by suggesting it, but after pulling all the materials together, I got pretty enthusiastic about it! I want to have a good relationship with my special person someday too!"

I nodded. "And no one's born knowing these things. We all have to learn, either from example, or by being taught directly. So," I checked my list, "since you're not currently active, do you want to talk a bit about dating, or your plans for the future? Is there anything you want to ask?"

The normally cheery boy deflated a bit again, avoiding eye contact as he spoke. "W- well, I'm not dating anyone either, so... not really. And I've already read all the materials, since we had to write up the info pamphlets to advertise this event. I feel like I understood everything pretty well..."

His dark mood passed as quickly as it had come. "Oh well, it's fine! It will all happen whenever it's supposed to happen, right? So I just need to be patient!" He paused. "Um, I guess we can just do the general exam now, right? I don't want to miss too much of biology class..."

"Right," I agreed, though I couldn't help wondering if Sagimori's usual cheerful facade was just that; a well-polished veneer meant to hide feelings of disappointment and sadness. As the doctor for the entire school population, small as it was, I didn't have the chance to get close to individual students. As a whole, they seemed to trust me, but sometimes I felt that I wasn't making much of a difference, or that I couldn't quite reach the ones who needed help the most.

"Sagimori, keep in mind that I'm not just a medical doctor. I'm also a licensed counselor. If you ever need to talk to someone, no matter how trivial you think your worries might seem, my door is always open."

He gave me a bitter little smile in response. "I know. Maybe I will, after this health fair is over."

~~~

I'd mentally prepared myself - and physically prepared the office - for my first after lunch client, Jokawa Kiyotada, head of Durak and general troublemaker. During the preparations for the health fair, I'd caught him hanging around the office no less than three times, attempting to place some sort of listening device in the room. I'd finally resorted to calling Kazuki and explaining the situation, asking him to do something to help protect the privacy of the students. As expected, Kazuki found the circumstances somewhat amusing, but he was even more serious about security than I was. He'd talked me through the process of finding and removing two bugs from the room - one more than I'd even been aware of - and he'd worked with Kasahara to adjust the security for the nurse's office so that Jokawa couldn't sneak in after hours to replace them.

I shook my head, making a face. Just how long had that other one been present in my office? Just thinking about it made my head hurt. Kazuki had said not to worry about it, that I couldn't hold myself responsible for student mischief, but... how many students had their confidentiality compromised?

"Zdravstvuj, Dr. Matsuoka," Jokawa's light sing-song voice rang out as the door slid open. "Are you tired of asking teenage boys about their sex lives yet?"

"Jokawa, don't ask things like that. Come in here and take a seat."

"Right, right," he sighed, pulling back the curtain to enter the more intimate space. He was even taller than Takato, but was built completely differently, so thin and lanky that even the slim-fitted pants of his uniform were baggy on his legs. With that, plus his exotic foreign look and mischievous character, it wasn't hard to imagine why he was so popular, especially at this school full of boys who seemed to love unusual situations and people more than anything.

"I'm in the middle of Professor Sakaki's class now, so I don't mind if this ends up running long. In fact, I'd prefer it." He sat on the exam table, crossing his long legs with a smile. "So, I hear you have an impressive checklist full of embarrassing questions. Shall we get started?"

"Jokawa, before we talk about any of that, I want you to know that I'm not happy with you trying to place a listening device here in my office. This health fair is meant to give all of the students a safe place to discuss something that's difficult and frankly, highly embarrassing for most. You attempting to listen in is more than a violation of my privacy, you're also negating the promise of confidentiality I've made to my patients. Do you understand?"

He folded his arms over his chest, a frown on his lips. "Yeeeees, I understand. I was just trying to have a little fun. Surely you wouldn't deny me a bit of harmless entertainment."

"It's not harmless. I'm asking to be trusted with very private information. How would you feel if someone listened in on your exam here?"

Jokawa shrugged. "I wouldn't care. I have nothing to be ashamed of."

I gave him a stern look. "You're probably the only one who feels that way. So I'd appreciate it if you'd stop trying to gather information from this office."

"Okay, okay, I get it."

Jokawa didn't sound like he got it, at least not the intent behind my policy, but if he was acknowledging my words, however reluctantly, there was a pretty good chance that he would abide by the rules. I made a mental note to check the office carefully after he left, though.

"Good. Then let's get started. How is your health in general recently?"

"Same as usual. My sense of taste is still totally backwards, my right eye can still clearly see things that are over a kilometer away, and my scars still aren't bothering me at all. In fact, I completely forget about them unless I happen to see them in the mirror." He smiled at me, but it was a falsely sweet smile that didn't reach his eyes. Well, eye.

If Jokawa thought he could get a rise out of me, he was wrong. I was used to maintaining absolute professionalism while dealing with temperamental high school students. Of course, that wouldn't stop him from trying. "So everything is normal, I take it. I'll mark you down as having no special complaints, unless there's something you want to discuss."

"No, no, nothing. Let's keep going, I want to get to the interesting questions."

"In that case, any concerns about your body's development? Of course, I realize you're nearly an adult now, but just in case..." Great, now I was trying to stall by asking useless things. Still, it was an important question, meant to coax answers out of a normally reluctant group. Though from the way Jokawa's eye glittered, he seemed anything but reluctant.

"My body is quite lovely. Well, you'll get to examine it later, so I'll spare you the details right now. Or actually, you can tell me what you think of it, how's that?"

"No, thank you. I'll be sure to inform you if there are any issues, of course."

"Hmm," he murmured, twirling the end of his ponytail around his finger. Bored or amused? I wasn't really sure. It might have been both.

"Those are the general questions. Your answers from now on will determine what kind of exam and testing I'll recommend." I glanced at the paper, though I'd asked enough times today to know which question was next. "Are you sexually active, either currently or at any point in the past?"

"I thought you'd never ask. Of course I am." Jokawa leaned forward, grinning. "And?"

So that was the game. If he thought he could embarrass me just by answering a little too eagerly, he was wrong. "Okay. How many partners have you had, and of which gender?"

He scratched at his chin, eye pointing up toward the ceiling as he considered. "Hmm, that's a good question. There's been, hmm, I think seven... no, eight girls, six guys, and one person who didn't really identify with either gender, though they had male equipment. So, fifteen?"

It sounded like nonsense, but I wasn't going to question him. For all I knew, it was completely true - after all, I'd already been shocked by Asahina's revelation earlier.

Asahina. I eyed the tall second-year student before me, who just smiled in response. The student council was friendly with Durak now, cooperating to organize all sorts of events and parties for the school. It was quite possible that a trusting boy like Asahina could be captivated by someone who oozed an odd but somewhat adultish charm like Jokawa.

"Fifteen, of both genders," I repeated, making a note.

"No," Jokawa corrected, "that's fourteen of both genders, as you say, and one other."

I just looked at him briefly, but didn't say anything. He was right, after all. "That gives me a good idea of the types of testing I'll recommend. And what kinds of protection are you using?"

"Whatever's appropriate for the situation, of course. Mostly condoms and such." He stretched and let out an exaggerated yawn. "I don't really need the lecture. Why don't we skip the rest of the questions and get to the part where I take off my pants?"

I probably shouldn't have asked, but something compelled me to say, "Is there a reason why you're so eager to skip directly to the physical exam?"

Jokawa made a face, eye pointing off toward the window instead of looking directly at me. "Hmm, well, it's a bit hard to say." He scratched at his cheek with one finger. "I guess there's no point in being coy about it. There's this little bump down there, and I'm starting to worry."

So that was it. "Does it hurt?"

"If it gets rubbed the wrong way. It's just annoying otherwise." His eye rolled up toward the ceiling as he grumbled, "It's almost like it happened because of this health fair. I've never had a problem before."

I put aside my clipboard. "If you're always careful, then it could be something innocuous, like an insect bite. But instead of speculating, let's take a look."

Twenty minutes later, Jokawa left my office, armed with a topical antibiotic and my lecture on how proper shaving techniques could prevent ingrown hairs. He'd pouted and sighed through the entire thing, but thanked me sincerely on his way out for helping him get back into business.

After the door was safely shut behind him, it was my turn to sigh.