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Jury Arisugawa's Diary
Chapter 5: It's the End of the World (and I Feel Almost Mildly Optimistic)

Week 25, Tuesday
Touchés: 18, New Lockets Bought: 1

What is with people. . .

Little Kiryuu showed up on doorstep last night with an overnight bag. After drama queen speech I have to admit I didn’t listen to most of, I gleaned she was upset about something to do with Touga. Felt a twinge of sympathy for her, but also calculated I’d have to listen to her go on and on about it ALL night.

Besides, there are already rumors about me being... well, okay, so I am... but the last thing I need is to have people talking about me having a girl from seventh grade sleep over. Suggested she find someone in her class to go to, as it would be more appropriate. Doesn’t she have all those minions? Maybe she doesn’t want’em to see her feeling weak. Understand that.

This morning, I learn “going to her classmates” was bad suggestion: she went to Miki. Poor Miki! Like Kozue would ever let him let another girl into the house. Oh dear. Then I hear that instead, she moves into the Chairman’s suite.

With Tenjou and Himemiya. In the Chairman’s...

The Chairman, the guy in the “poncey” prince outfit who drove the car as if we were all going to die to the “end of the world.”

Oh god.

Hell, who is knocking on the door now? Nanami again?

4:00 p.m.

Was Shiori, returning CD. She muttered something that sounded almost like “thank you” and was about to leave when turned around and looked at me, that perfect white brow creased with an expression possibly trying to attain concern. “Jury,” she said my name in that sugary purr, “You... you... fought a duel, right? In that arena... with Ruka...”

I swallowed. What was she going to going to accuse me of? Concentrating very hard on maintaining perfect Ice Queen composure as I nodded. If she’s going to slam doors in my face, there’s no reason to try and drop the barrier again.

“So... so did he take you into the Chairman’s car?”

I blinked, remembering the panties, and wondered if could will facial capillaries not to open. “I did.”

Apparently mind-over-capillaries was not working, because she suddenly looked angry, probably getting totally wrong idea. “What did Ruka do with you?” Even before I could deny, honestly, anything, she shook her head. “Never mind, I don’t care,” she said, obviously caring. “That’s not what I was asking about.”

“Then what is it?” I asked calmly, coolly, perfectly reserved. Was wondering when might be the perfect moment to slam door in her face.

“But... I heard a rumor, that Utena Tenjou was living in the Chairman’s residence.” She frowned. “But he... he drove the car, so he wanted Ruka to beat Utena, and I guess he wanted you to, too. So what’s up with that?”

Surprised. Was Shiori worried about the same thing I was? I don’t even think she really knew Tenjou. I shook my head, taking a deep breath. “I don’t think Tenjou knows Ohtori is behind the duels. I mean, she should by now, but I think... she has a tendency to not be able to see people’s dark sides. Or at least accept them.” Or be aware of anything beyond whether she thinks she should meddle or not.

Shiori blinked at me. “Wait... aren’t you her friend?”

Considered a moment. If Tenjou was asked if I was her friend, she’d probably say yes, even after having challenged her to duel. In fact, she was stunned I’d defaulted. Tenjou... challenger, meddler, kind-hearted, short shorts wearing... friend? “I... guess so.” I paused.

She narrowed her pretty, amethyst-like eyes. “So you know this car-driving whacko is orchestrating sword fights against this girl, and at the same time has arranged it so she lives with him, and you’re not going to tell her about it?”

I processed this, and then very suddenly, words leapt out of my mouth as if having taken on a sentience of their own: “Do you have ANY FUCKING IDEA what it is like to see someone you care about be manipulated by some heartless bastard and realize you can’t do a DAMN THING about it? ‘Cause my trying to stop you from what you were doing with Ruka sure as hell didn’t do a damn bit of good! So what the HELL makes you think I can go up against the fucking CHAIRMAN to help Utena?” I blinked and realized had a few stupid, stupid traitorous tears in my eyes.

She stood back as if physically assaulted by my words. Her face seemed to be playing gymnastics tricks, I didn’t know if she was going to yell or cry or laugh at me. Finally her face reformed itself into a definite scowl. “Well... there’s a difference between talking to someone and ordering them to stop what they’re doing about out of the blue.” The words landed in me with poison arrow-tips.

“I...” stumbled uselessly. The Ice Queen was melting. Seeing this, she seemed to relent slightly.

“Maybe, if you’re afraid of the chairman–I wouldn’t blame you if you were–you should just try telling her you’re there for her,” she said gently, and then she paused to reload the poison. “You know, before something bad happens. Then maybe she won’t think you’re just feeling sorry for her after the fact. Here,” she held out Gloria Gaynor to me. “If that doesn’t work, you better save this for when she needs it.”

“Wait!”

She stopped before she left. “What?”

“Why are you so worried about her?”

Shiori shrugged. “I’m not... really...” she looked at the ground, looking about as guilty as Shiori was capable of looking. “Look, she was nice to me when I first arrived on campus... I mean, she didn’t even know who I was, but she was really sweet. And...”

“You feel badly about participating in a duel against her after she’s been nothing but nice to you?”

“Maybe,” Shiori said. “But I hardly know her. She said you were her friend,” she said with a bite. “So do something about it.”

She turned around, and I watched her perfectly petite, delicate frame fade into the dimly lit walkway. Mind swimming with visions of Shiori’s eyes and swords and roses falling and everything going to hell, and wondering what the hell Shiori meant about “just feeling sorry for her.”

4:15 p.m.

Is bizarre. Realized in creepy, unintentionally seductive yet coldly manipulative way, Shiori was telling me to do with Tenjou exactly what Tenjou told me to do with Shiori.

(Though Shiori would look horrid in those kind of shorts. Not that she doesn’t have a nice ass, however.)

4:35 p.m.

Except, nice asses aside, why should I listen to heart-breaking, backstabbing, door-in-face-slamming little bitch?

Besides, Tenjou was wrong.

4:38 p.m.

Except that if Tenjou was wrong, why is Shiori is actually talking to me now? And had apologized for her behavior, even if it was just to get me to lend her CD.

And moreover she did bring CD back, even when she knew it was my very very favorite (except for ABBA, but even she wouldn’t dare borrow that) and could have kept it forever or scratched it or lost it to drive me insane.

4:40 p.m.

But bringing CD back does not give any reason whatsoever as to why I should listen to her. Is still Shiori.

4:45 p.m.

Fuck. Heart-breaking, backstabbing, door-in-face slamming little bitch is right.

4:50 p.m.

Reviewing my diary, and given the strange turn of events lately, my guess is it’ll be Nanami’s turn to duel, probably followed by Touga. Can’t interfere with those duels, really–even if we tried it would just get twisted around–and there’s no way in hell Smug Bastard will let us get in the way of his duel. But if Tenjou survives that long, maybe we can talk to her after. After all, that’s probably when Ohtori will... do who knows what (if Utena’s still the champion).

Besides, Utena’s been totally out of it, if lunch today was any indication. Perhaps she is starting to get an idea of what’s going on. Or is being drugged by Chairman. Actually, that would explain a lot.

Will talk to Miki. We’ll come up with something.

Week 26, Monday
Touchés: 19 (so close), Times Reached for Locket Despite Its Having No Photo: 9

Was eating lunch alone today. Tenjou was eating some kind of weird asparagus-salmon omelette I didn’t want to be anywhere near, and Miki was chatting with Little Kiryuu. Good. Don't like her but she needs real friend, especially with all she’s been through, and Miki needs to talk to other girls.

Junior fencers were sparring in the courtyard with sticks. Fujimoto left himself wide open to Ono's thrust, and Ono rightfully let him have it. "What kind of a poor excuse for a parry is that?"

"That's what the captain taught me,” Fujimoto claimed. Taught him that, my looks-beautiful-in-tight-jeans ass. Taught him NOT to do, maybe. But they were both distracted by a giggle. Shiori, sitting on a fence not far away. She tried not to look at them.

"What're you laughing at, Takatsuki?" Fujimoto deflected his anger. "What do you know?" He leered, wiggling his eyebrows at Ono. "I heard the only thrusts she took were from Captain Ruka..."

My hands immediately balled into fists, but I knew she'd be pissed off if I ran to her defense. She made that clear. They couldn’t see me from where I was sitting so I just tried to stay still.

She managed, as she so artfully does, to twist the pain on her face into a devious smirk. "Does that mean you enjoy taking them from Ono?"

Fujimoto might have been able to recover had Ono not burst into laughter. "Tou-ché!!" he barked.

"And Jury," Shiori said, "Never would teach anyone such a crappy maneuver as that.” Wow, thanks. “You need to draw your wrist into a tight circle," she illustrated not too imprecisely with her hand, "like that."

She got up before either could argue, though Fujimoto was shouting back at her, "What the heck does a little princess like you know about fencing?"

I couldn't hold back anymore, emerging from behind the pillar where I was sitting. "A damn sight more than you, Fujimoto," sending him a glare that shut him up fast.

Shiori's eyes met mine, face unreadable. I turned my face away so the fencing monkeys couldn't see. What to say, what to say, what to say, what to say.... don't make her feel like I was trying to interfere...

"Good one," I said to her finally. "He didn't know what hit him."

She smiled, suddenly, and it's sunshine on a cloudy day or some similar poetic junk. "Thanks," she said, and walked off.

Ding. A light opened in my mind.

Burning with epiphany, followed her, all the way to her locker. "Shiori-"

"Thank you," she said more firmly; could tell she was thinking I was worried about the exchange outside. "I can-"

"I need to ask you something."

She frowned quizzically at my perhaps slightly frantic tone. "About what?"

"I..." suddenly, I felt very nervous, and struggled to keep my appearance cool. Cool, collected, Ice Queen. But I shifted my weight from foot to foot in a most un-Ice Queenly manner, and knees threatened to turn to jelly. "I wanted to ask you... that is... if you were willing..."

"Yes...?"

Heart pounding in my ears. "I was just wondering if...." I took a breath. “Would you..... wouldyoubeinterestedinjoiningthefencingteam?”

"WHAT?"

"The fencing team," I managed to say more slowly. Once I'd said it, it was suddenly much easier to discuss. "We lost a team member late in the season, and I need a replacement–preferably a girl in high school–so we have enough entries in the girls’ division in this year’s tournament."

Shiori looked at me like I was insane (probably right). "But I've hardly ever fenced!"

"I know. But I know you've done a little, and you've watched... fencing... for a long time... which isn't much, frankly, but it still puts you light years ahead most of the turtles who've tried out. You know the terminology, the rules, the etiquette. And... you... if what you said to Fujimoto is any indication... clearly do know what you are talking about."

She gave a pleased kittenish smile. "You're really desperate, aren't you?"

I took a breath, not in the mood to play this game with her. "Frankly? Yes. But I take my position as captain of this team very seriously, and I would not ask you if I did not think you had the potential," I stressed that word, "to be very good. Otherwise it would be unfair to the team, for bringing in someone who couldn't keep up, and it would be unfair to you, to make you try do something you weren’t capable of."

She blinked at me, apparently speechless and yet apparently not in a particularly hateful way. I am not sure how I accomplished this, but this is the record in case I ever need to perform such a miracle again.

I did not just say that.

Did I?

"It will be enormously difficult–we’re a good way through the term, here, and frankly–for the tournament I won’t be surprised if you enter a single bout and lose, and that’ll be it for the year. It won’t be very exciting. And if you hate it–it's only several weeks until end of term anyway, though otherwise, you’d be in a better position if you wanted to try out for the team next year. I am just... asking you... to consider... helping me."

She raised a single, perfectly arced eyebrow at me. "You need my help?"

If she wanted me to put it that way? Fine. "Yes."

She suddenly beamed, a smile even more sunshine and lollipops than she gave me outside. "Sure, Jury. I'll join the fencing team." She shouldered her book bag and started to walk past me, pausing to touch me on the shoulder. "You might," she breathed in a lower voice, leaning her head towards mine, "Have to give me extra lessons, though."

I am a cold, refined, glamourous, poised... stuttering schoolgirl with completely inappropriate thoughts going through my head. "Sure," I stammer. "Ask Miki for the practice schedule." The bell rings, saving me from having to continue. "First practice is this afternoon; hope you can make it. See ya." ZOOM down the hallway, never so eager to get to geometry in my life.

Week 26, Thursday
Was observing tryouts, no bouts. Forgot to Put Locket On; Missed It Twice

Something’s up with Tenjou. Somehow... somehow... those shorts just don’t look so cute anymore.

No, it’s not the shorts. Never really was, of course. For the most part. It’s the way she’s walking. Her step has changed, her stance.

She’s become a total girl.

As in, "princess."

Something twists inside. The air is thick, like before a storm. Miki feels it too, even he can’t rationalize it away.

And like a storm, you can’t stop it coming. Miki and I both realized that. Part of me wants to dive in and just shake Tenjou, shake that goo-goo romantic look right out of her eyes. But... as we’ve watched the events unfold–they can’t be stopped. Every time someone said, “We won’t duel anymore” or “we’ll stop the duels,” something completely weird or awful happens that ensures their continuation.

"We can talk to Utena after her duel with Touga. Warn her, make sure she knows what's going on at least," Miki said.

“Or at least tell her we’re worried about her,” I said. Smiling wryly, added, “You know, after I yelled at her about being meddlesome, it’s not like I have a right to try to stop her.”

“Maybe it’s more important that she just know we’re there for her.”

Found myself suddenly hugging him. “Micky,” I said, calling him by his nickname. “Remind me to talk to you more often when I’m worried about something.”

He spluttered and blushed and was very cute. And embarrassed by receiving such a hit, he found an opening and lunged right back.

“Shiori performed very well today.”

“Yes, she did.” I looked at him. “Really? I mean, I thought so...” Frowned. “Wait. Why bring up Shiori?”

He smiled, clicking his stopwatch once again. “I know she’s an old friend of yours.” He rubbed the back of his head nervously as I glared at him inquisitively. “Oh... oh, come on, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why you chose to fight your duel–or how Captain Ruka got to you.” He rubbed his head again. “It’s... it’s not any of my business of course...”

“Of course it’s your business.” I looked at him. “You’re my deputy captain, Miki. Keep me on the straight and... well... keep me focused, anyway. I don’t want to do this for the wrong reasons.”

He shook his head. “You’re not. You never would.”

Hugged him again. Wish I had photograph of the look on his face.

Week 30, Tuesday
Touchés: 17, Photographs Sorted Through for Locket: 82, Photos Chosen: 0

Time has passed too quickly. Am disgusted with self. Though have been worried about Utena, have paid little attention to Smug Bastard and the final duel. Life has been utterly absorbed by fencing and Shiori. But... is weird. Because, Shiori is not consuming all my time because I’m standing in the shower thinking about our past. Just trying to figure out how to communicate with someone I have tried to avoid as much as possible for, oh, going on two years now.

“Two years, Jury,” Big Sis said on the phone. “You’re going to have to let go some day.”

But I don’t want to let go... but I’m not sure what the hell of what. Of Shiori, of my love for her, or my resentment of her?

Resentment can be oddly empowering.

Sis... lets go of things too easily. Envy her and can’t comprehend her at same time.

Tenjou beat Touga, was really no surprise. Smug Bastard took it much better this time. Is he actually growing up? Maybe it was no surprise to him either.

Think he’s fighting for different reasons than before. He’s just as worried as we are. His solution is stupid, though, and makes me glad Tenjou beat him. He wanted her to be his princess so she won’t have to fight anymore. He’s entirely missed the point... so entirely missed the point. For someone so smart, he’s a total fuckwit for thinking, “Submit to me and I’ll make all your problems go away,” is a line that would actually work on someone like Tenjou. She may be a little more googly-eyed than usual but... is still Tenjou. Must have faith in the cute shorts.

Basketball practice is tomorrow. Miki and I will try to catch her afterward.

Week 30, Wednesday
Shuttlecock volleys: 14. Times Miki Blushed at Word “Shuttlecock”: 2

I am confident that Tenjou will win. When we were talking about love and friendship post a nice friendly game of lawn tennis, she actually almost acknowledged that my feelings were not entirely “pure” regarding Shiori. Heh.

See? Utena got a clue about something.

That’s revolutionary right there.

Backing up... was really worried for awhile. They said the duel called Revolution was coming, but Tenjou had removed her ring. Seemed weak. Something on her mind–of course we knew what.

In some ways, think she fights for Anthy the way I did for Shiori. Hope she realizes that she can’t make Anthy want to be helped.

Reading over diary, it occurs to me... you can’t force someone do what you want them to, you can’t make them better than they are, and you can’t fight someone else’s battles for them. But you can lend them your sword.

Will Utena lend Anthy her sword? And is that a particularly good idea? Will Anthy just in turn give it to her older brother and default?

Little Kiryuu warned her against both Anthy and the Chairman. Little Kiryuu’s always hated Anthy, but ever since her stay in the Chairman’s Residence, she seems frightened of her. She won’t talk about it though. The odd thing is... she’s been less clingy to Touga ever since, though that also might have to do with the abysmal way he treated her up towards her own duel.

She’s also been spending more time with Miki... and he in turn seems less in the palm of Kozue. Saw her watching our match, though. She was not happy, to hear Miki say he was worried for Tenjou. But... she didn’t stop him either. Then again, maybe was scared of me (am only female she lets spend time with him. On other hand, despite how fun it is to flirt with Miki... well, am gay. And Kozue knows it). But really... if Miki wants to spend more time with Utena or me... or Little Kiryuu... what’s she going to do about it?

And speaking of last, Miki is probably only real friend Little Kiryuu has. Are good for each other. Kozue is scary, but what can one obsessive little sister do against another?

Wait... maybe is problem. Perhaps should ask Smug Bastard to distract Kozue. I know he has “distracted” her in the past. Of course, Kozue has been “distracted” by a number of men on campus... pardon the vulgarity, but what hole, besides the obvious, is she trying to fill?

Something I don’t want to think about much at any rate.

Also caught Shiori watching match. I asked Tenjou for picture for locket–still has no picture in it, though sometimes wear it. Am used to feel around neck. Shiori looked... pissed? Upset? Jealous? Is it wrong for me to feel just a little, tiny bit pleased about that?

Maybe we’ve both been deceiving each other.

See? Look, Tenjou is about to fight for Power to Revolutionize the world and am STILL going off on tangents about Shiori. Maybe am getting better... but have long way to go.

Week 30, Thursday
Fuck it.

Utena carted off in ambulance. No idea what the heck happened. Her hands were scraped to hell like she’d been repeatedly punching concrete, but she was clutching her side, like that was what was hurting.

Took long walks around campus till late at night. Felt like puking. Ran into Smug Bastard. Actually appeared worried. We walked together awhile, saying nothing beyond his saying that he thought even I ought to have an escort late at night, capable though I might be of castrating would-be assailants.

If he’d given Tenjou that kind of respect, he’d....

God, still want to puke. Anyway. I haven’t gotten to the weirdest part yet.

We ended up wandering towards Chairman’s residence, where we found another person wandering around outside. Anthy.

She was wearing some sort of weird red sack dress, like the Rose Bride dress had been torn of all its decoration. Her glasses were gone, her hair was down–and as someone who spends at least an hour taming and curling hair every morning, am still boggled how she got all that hair up into those tight rolls.

She looked as confused as the rest of us. She wobbled, and Smug Bastard’s finely honed Chivalrous Gentleman skills kicked in and he caught her in fluid movement. Gotta give the boy props where they're due: he's good at stuff like that.

“Thank you,” she said. She looked at him inquringly. “Touga Kiryuu?”

Was weird. Was like she was meeting someone she’d only seen in a dream. Looked at me the same way. “Jury Arisugawa...” she said, as if reminding herself of who I was. She shook her head, and her eyes widened. “Utena? Where’s Utena?”

“She’ll be fine,” Touga said, as ever smoothly, confidently lying. “She’s been taken off campus to be treated.”

“Off campus?”

He and I nodded.

She gave us a faltering smile. “Good,” she said. “That’s good.”

A distant voice within calmly suggested that I might beat or shake her for acting so... odd... but then I realized, this wasn't exactly normal behavior for Anthy. She actually seemed concerned. Did she know Utena was hurt? Why was it ‘good’ she’d been taken away?

“Do you know something we don’t, Himemiya?” I asked her.

She shrugged. “We’ll have to wait and see...” she said, and she looked a little lost and distant, but not blank, the way she usually did. “I’m not sure...”

She shook again, and Smug Bastard steadied her. “Are you all right, Miss Himemiya?”

She looked at him for several seconds before replying, suddenly giving him an eerily normal smile. “Actually, Mr. Student Council President... I think I’m going to be just fine.” She straightened, finding her legs.

It didn’t even hit me until Smug Bastard walked me home, after we’d seen her inside the Residence. He looked at me, a rare gaze of puzzlement.

“Did she call her ‘Utena’?”

Week 40, Friday – Last Day of School
Touchés: 20; Miracles: Uncountable; World Revolutions: 1

Talked to Sis the other day. Told her I’d finally realized that maybe it was okay that boy’s name was forgotten... as long as she lived a good life, he wouldn’t have died in vain. Her life was his legacy.

“But he didn’t actually save me Jury. He just... sacrificed himself and couldn’t even help me. It was just a sad loss...”

“You’re saying what happened doesn’t affect you at all?”

She sighed. “Of course... even if I don’t remember his name... I appreciate that anyone would do anything like that for me. He didn’t even know me, and he died for me. That’s a big deal. But, sweetie... it was such a long time ago. Life goes on.”

“No, see, that’s my point,” I said. “I think he’d be sad if you dwelled on the loss. You’ve lived on... so... that’s what’s important.” I shook my head. “Never mind. I don’t know what I’m talking about. Clearly, I should not attempt optimistic thoughts.”

Sis laughed. She said she was proud of me, but didn’t say why.

Had final ceremonial bouts with fencing team today. Shiori even got a touch in on me, fair and square.

Somehow, we’re talking to each other again. I’ve been giving her extra lessons. She apologized for being a complete bitch and I apologized for being an Ice Queen. I said, “Let’s not talk about it anymore. I think we’ve hashed it out quite a bit.”

We go bowling every once in awhile (where she, being my original teacher, still utterly trounces me. But I’m getting better. Lost by a spare last time). She held my hand the other day. And it was nice. Wasn’t thinking about past or future. Just a nice moment.

“Do you trust me, Jury?” Shiori asked.

I shrugged. “I don’t know,” I told her honestly. “But I’m willing to risk it, to be here with you.”

“You’re not wearing your locket anymore.”

“I don’t need it,” I said. “My loved ones I remember well enough about it; I certainly brood enough anyway.”

She giggled.

“And you’re here. I’d rather leave the Shiori of the past where she is. Along with the Jury of that time.”

“Me too,” she said.

That’s good enough.

Smug Bastard hasn’t had a single female date in five weeks. Been practicing with Saionji. Maybe he’s finally admitting all he wants to do is bang some bokken around.

Little Kiryuu has lent Tsuwabuki to Miki, as he’s a likely candidate for Junior member of the council next year. Miki’s teaching him to take the minutes. Since Tsuwabuki is busy, Little Kiryuu’s decided she wants to learn to make lunch and tea for herself. She is practicing on Smug Bastard and Saionji. Almost feel sorry for them, but not quite.

Kozue has been giving Miki suggestions for arrangements for songs. She may be all thumbs, but she has a good ear, it turns out. She’s been going steady with one guy, though, so Miki has time to spend with Tsuwabuki AND Little Kiryuu, which he has been. He’s playing a new song. My little Miki is growing up.

Turned in my final term paper today for history class. In the conclusion, I admit I got far too sentimental for my own tastes:

“We tend to think of revolutions as sudden, major upheavals–floods, to borrow the term from Louis XIV. The first shot fired is where more incomplete histories focus as a start of a revolution. Looking more deeply into the subject, however, we see that revolutions build up very slowly over time, drop by drop, behind the dam. To look at the cause and reason for a revolution, we must look to what grew within the hearts of generations of people seeking a better life and realizing it could truly be achieved. It is tragic, in a way, that memorials go only to the soldiers that died in war... and not also to the brave souls that first forged the sentiments that paved the way for liberation to come. These seemingly ordinary people, names lost to time, are as much heroes as those who waved their swords in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity.”

Rumors spin around as usual, but I trust my eyewitnesses: Anthy Himemiya walked off campus today, in street clothes. She has never left campus in the time that I have come to school here.

I heard the bells ring, as if declaring victory.

Sent note to Ruka, who is doing remarkably well after his latest treatments. “Spring break is here at last.” I said. “I am free.”

~fin~

Go toChapter 1: Mystery Letters, Student Councils, and Smug Bastards

Chapter 2: The New Girl

Chapter 3: Why Can't I Remember Any of This?

Chapter 4: Never Trust a Man in a Sportscar

Chapter 5: It's the End of the World (and I Feel Almost Mildly Optimistic)

Or The Main Page

 


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