The music room was an empty shell filled only with avant-garde shadows made by the red setting sun and a baby grand piano that sat neatly in the center of the room. Invading the loneliness of the space were two girls. The taller of the two smirked as the shorter girl, light violet hair and innocent violet colored eyes, whispered into her ear. Deep blue eyes shut for a moment and then the taller of the two whispered something back that made the shorter girl blush with excitement. The girl with the innocent eyes smiled and whispered an unexpected response.
“Sometimes”, the taller girl stated softly. “I’m quite sure you’re more wicked than I am, Shiori.”
The shorter girl stepped back and shrugged with a deep sigh. A cunning smile spread across her face as she closed her eyes and listened to the emptiness around her. Just in the distance a familiar footfall could be heard approaching. Shiori beamed, “Someone’s coming, Kozue.”
Kouze stepped back towards the piano, brushed a stray strand of ocean blue hair from her eyes and waited for Shiori to come to her. The girl with the ocean blue hair smiled thinly as Shiori stepped close and wrapped delicate arms around her. It was a mild embrace that was made closer as Shiori heard the door creak open. The violet-eyed girl took Kozue into a shallow kiss and waited. The light footsteps of a fencer clicked into the room and stopped with sudden urgency. Shiori opened her eyes to catch sight of the intruder. She made sure to make clear eye contact. Kozue could almost feel Shiori smiling and so, feeling it her cue…Kozue pulled Shiori just a little closer, and made the kiss just a little deeper. Violet eyes watched with glee as the intruder, light auburn ringlets framing a paled face, blue-green eyes burning with sadness, turned and stiffly walked out of the room. It was meant to hurt. It was meant to sting and burn deeply. It was a weapon of the cruelest design and Shiori wielded it well. As the door shut the girls broke the embrace. Shiori had a slight smile across her innocent looking face. Kozue could have easily mistaken that smile for sweetness if she didn’t know any better.
“You’re sure she won’t say anything”, Kozue asked merely as a precaution. “I do have my reputation.”
“Hmph”, Shiori’s smile slipped away, “Trust me. No one will ever know. We all have our reputations.”
Kozue was satisfied with the answer. She watched as Shiori left the music room and wondered what the girl’s true intent was, because there was cruelty and then there was total devastation. Kozue let the matter pass though. She had her own cruelty to dispense, but she noted that she should stay on Shiori’s good side.
When there is sadness in your eyes
You’re so lovely
With loneliness in your soul
You’re just more beautiful to me
And I’m the lucky one
Because I’m the only one
Who ever really sees
You’re so pretty
You’re so beautiful
But only when I hurt you
And you let me hurt you
The image was burning in her mind. Perhaps it was just foolish to believe that she was free from such want.
Juri was dispatching more competitors today than she had in her entire career as a fencer.
Perhaps she was trying too hard to forget that she was hurt.
Perhaps she shouldn’t depend on fencing to relieve her frustration.
But she didn’t know what else to do.
The girl stepped up to the fencing track. Juri observed her strong and light stance. She noted very clearly the way the fencing foil dangled limply in the girl’s right hand. It took less effort to disarm the girl and win the duel than to say the single word that shot fear through her fellow fencers. The girl was about to shrink off the fencing track, but Juri watched carefully as the girl went to pick up the fallen fencing foil. The girl used her left hand.
“Wait”, the command was strong but there was softness in her tone that had been missing since practice had started. “Wait. Come back.”
The girl looked over at the captain.
“Try again”, Juri stated. “This time… use your left hand.”
The girl took her place once again. Juri checked the girl’s stance. It was still light but strong. Juri moved her eyes to the girl’s left hand. Much better, she thought to her self. The girl held the foil with more confidence and a much better grip. It took longer for Juri to defeat the girl this time. As the girl stepped off the track for the second time Juri removed her mask and remarked, “Your right hand needs to be stronger. Practice with your right for an hour longer than your left.”
The girl smiled and walked into a group of her friends with relief.
The word hit the air much softer than it had before. But any sense of calm left as Juri watched Shiori step up. The girl across from Juri smiled innocently and slipped her mask on. Juri refrained from sneering and pulled her mask over her head. No one really noticed what she did next, and Juri really didn’t realize she had done it either. But as Shiori prepared her self, Juri slipped the foil into her left hand. It was really an affront to Shiori’s talent. If the cruelly innocent looking girl had taken care to notice she would have been offended. Perhaps it was the burning image eating at her soul, and perhaps it wasn’t intentional but Juri took Shiori out of the game in just one move. One single stroke of Juri’s sword, with her weak hand, and Shiori was beaten.
Shiori stepped off the fencing track and watched Juri take out her next three opponents with ease. Violet eyes lingered on the fencing captain’s face as she removed her mask. A cruelly innocent smirk was planted on her face. Juri was strong and she always would be. But even if Juri could hide her true feelings from the rest of the world Shiori knew…Juri just couldn’t hide from her.
I dwell on the feeling I had lost
I dwell on that memory like it was my only truth
I’m not so weak I can’t move on
I’m not so shocked I can’t breath
But I’m so much more breakable than you care to notice
So much more lost than you will know
Don’t think just because I let you slip away
That your smile doesn’t hurt my heart
Don’t think your laughter doesn’t cause me pain
I dwell on this feeling I thought I had lost
And it kills me
The warmth of the water embraced her but she felt no comfort. She was angry with her self for dwelling on something she thought she had let go of. The past was gone. The past was nothing and there was no reason why she should feel anything but total disgust at what Shiori had done. So why did it hurt so much? She couldn’t explain it. Steam filled the bathroom and sat like a heavy fog around her. It was going to be a long night. Juri stepped out of the shower and the cold air from her bedroom hit her slowly. She combed out her hair and put on her nightgown. She tried to sleep but as usual found she could not. Her mind was racing with a million things. What she had walked in on implied too many things. It opened to many doors and Juri wasn’t sure how to close them. If Ruka were still alive he could have told her all the reasons why Shiori should just be cast aside like an insect. Then Juri could try to beat him to a pulp and as he laughed at her for becoming so angry she could laugh too. Blue-green eyes closed and a small smile formed on her lips. She had always hated Ruka for being so conniving, but she missed his honesty. She missed having someone around to shove her nose in the truth. She wished they hadn’t parted on such sour terms.
“It’ll be all right” he had said. “Don’t worry”.
But she did worry. She worried because what she thought was gone and lost forever was only buried and waiting to consume her again. Juri sat up in her bed and looked out her window. The moon was hiding behind clouds. She wondered if it would rain soon. With or with out the rain, a storm was coming and she could feel it creeping.
Sometimes I worry for nothing
I don't know what to do when it starts to come to you
And I refuse to let you take me to where I once was
My past is buried for a reason
Lost in the ashes of a forgotten season
Misplaced in the dust of a trampled sky
I am left but to wonder
How my heart was stolen
And why I refuse to breakdown
Days washed by like empty seasons and Juri found the strength to bury the burn of the image of Shiori and Kozue locked in a kiss. She convinced her self that it was meant to hurt and while it had been very affective she just couldn’t succumb to it any longer. She walked with steady purpose into the lunchroom and sat across from Miki almost expressionless for a moment. He was full of some good cheer. His blue eyes flashing with brilliance as he discussed his up coming piano competition. Juri was happy for the good company but as usual she kept that note to her self. As lunch waned Juri managed a smile or to while she listened to Miki speak, but she lost her smile as she saw Kozue approaching.
“And what is my brother up to today”, Kozue asked lightly as she approached.
Miki sighed and looked up at as his twin with a forced smile. “Nothing really”, he mentioned. “Just getting ready for the competition.”
Kozue nodded. She eyed Juri curiously and walked off. Juri tried not to pay any attention and looked over at Miki who seemed a little worried.
“It’s unlike you to let her bother you like this”, Juri mentioned. “Or maybe she isn’t what’s bothering you.”
Miki shrugged a little. “Kozue and I had been on good terms for a long while and then just a few days ago…” Miki paused and looked over at Juri. “We had a little fight. I’m sure it’s nothing. Brother and sister quarrels are bound to come up.”
Miki dismissed the matter much too quickly for Juri’s tastes. She let it go though. She let it slip back into her mind as a thought never to be recovered. Feeling a need Juri mentioned in passing the up coming fencing championships and asked politely if Miki was ready for them. As lunch ended Juri unexpectedly wondered what it was Kozue was hoping to discover as she walked by. It wouldn’t be hard to find out.
As Kozue walked by one of the various columns at the Ohtori Academy she heard a very stolid and recognizable voice call to her. She stopped in her tracks, not bothering to look over her shoulder to see whom it was. She knew who it was and Kozue was a little surprised it took Juri so long to talk to her.
“Jealous”, Kozue stated rather glibly.
Juri’s arms were folded around her waist as she leaned up against a column. She huffed a little and then replied rather flatly, “Why should I be jealous?”
A small smile stretched across Kozue’s face. Her ocean blue eyes flashed as she spun around to look at Juri. “How like you to be concerned for my brother’s feelings”, she said as almost a whisper. “What do you want?”
“That fight you and your brother had”, Juri said. “It’s really not my concern. Just tell me one thing Kozue.”
Kozue was never one to back down from a challenge, and Juri seemed to be just teetering on one. She stepped closer to Juri and waited. Her ocean blue eyes nearly burning with a challenge of their own.
“What would you like to know Miss Arisugawa”, Kozue asked softly.
“Was it intentional?”
The girl with the deep blue hair didn’t even have to ask what Juri was referring to. She smiled and whispered into the fencer’s ear. As she stepped away Kozue noted the oddly stoic manner in which Juri held herself.
“Well”, Kozue said as she began to walk off. “She was right… So pretty…”
Given the circumstances Juri contained her self very well. But Juri couldn’t afford to let anyone see her react. She couldn’t afford to speak her true feelings or act on her true impulses. She swallowed it down as if pain were merely water, just liquid death to be consumed and forgotten.
Beauty lies in the oddest places
It seeps into the skin when least expected
I wonder if you know how beautiful the cruel can be
I wonder if you know how beautiful sorrow looks
And right now…
If I could run to your side and wipe away your tears
If only to place more there
Glimmering like diamonds on your face
If only to have you beg me
I can promise you never
I did promise you never
I wonder how much hurt you can bare
I wonder how long I can give it to you
And still… never break my promise
It was quiet in that special place she had shared with Ruka. At night it was especially lovely. The moon full and reflecting in the deepness of the water below her. As she sat there her hand blindly ran across her chest as if it were searching for something. Juri caught herself and sighed. It was gone. The locket was destroyed and it was gone. She only reached for the piece of phantom jewelry when she was really worried and upset. Her blue-green eyes looked out over the water and pleaded for refuge, but the stubbornly strong part of her soul would not allow tears. After Ruka passed away, after Shiori hurt her for the last time, after the hero had left she swore never again would she waste her tears.
“Faithless love… like a river flows. Like raindrops falling…on a broken rose. Down in some valley… where nobody knows. And the night comes in… like a cold dark wind. Faithless love… like a river flows”, her voice was soft and a little off key but she sang well. “Faithless love...Where did I go wrong? Too many stories…Too many hearts…where nobody is right and nobody was wrong… Faithless love will find you and the misery entwine you…”
“I didn’t know you sang”, a voice cut in softly.
“I don’t”, Juri sighed. She didn’t turn around. She recognized the voice behind her, but she wasn’t prepared to see it. “I haven’t sung since I was eight”, Juri confessed. “She told me once that I shouldn’t so I stopped.”
“You have a lovely voice”, the person behind her replied. “So?”
Juri sighed and turned around. “It’s you?”
“Yes it is”, the owner of the voice was a tall girl. Bright blue eyes an inch away from being angelic, with soft pink hair that fell to her shoulders and made her the kind of person one couldn’t help but be near. “I had to visit”, she confessed. “Make sure that I hadn’t dreamed the whole thing.”
Juri smiled and it surprised her greatly. However she remembered that the girl that was now in front of her had that power about her. Juri closed her eyes and tried not to cry. “Has Anthy found you yet”, Juri asked softly.
The girl in front of her smiled. “Is she looking for me”, the girl asked almost naively. “I had a feeling she might be but…” the girl looked deeply into Juri’s eyes and shook her head. “Don’t you ever worry about yourself. I thought I had freed everyone of their chains.”
“Some chains come back on occasion”, Juri muttered.
“Ah! Well…What are you going to do”, the girl said playfully. “You know you’re the only one who’s having so much trouble.”
Juri huffed a bit. “Really? Is that so?”
“Afraid it is”, the girl replied with a smile. “Nanami is doing great. Her obsession is no longer the all consuming factor in her life…of course she’s still a bit of mischief maker but…That’s the way she is. Miki has his music back as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Touga and Saonji have graduated but they seem to be doing alright...”
“I can’t believe you checked up on us”, Juri nearly laughed.
The girl with the pink hair started to do some leg stretches and smiled. “What kind of prince would I be if I didn’t check up on those I helped on occasion.” the girl looked over at Juri and then said, “Don’t answer that. Look I can’t stay much longer. I really have other stuff to be doing, but I noticed you were having some trouble and..."
“Doesn’t the white horse get tired”; Juri quipped.
The girl looked very serious for a minute and it caught Juri’s attention. “In the two years I’ve been gone you were doing really well. Who was that nice girl you were dating five months ago?”
“Is none of my business I know that. I just thought…”the girl paused. She was trying hard to find something comforting to say. “Juri… You live to make her happy, but she’s only happy when you suffer. It isn’t right. You know you can do better.”
“Your stretching”, Juri said softly. “What are you afraid to tell me Utena?”
Utena smiled her bright and wonderful eyes full of thought and concern. “ What’s the worse that could happen if you decided to do one thing for yourself”, she asked softly.
Juri was speechless. She thought for a long moment and could not come up with an answer.
“I have to go now”, Utena said sadly. “I have things to do.” The girl with the bright smile began to walk away.
“Wait”, Juri shouted. It was almost desperate. “Wait Utena!”
Utena turned around with a soft smile.
“What will you do if she finds you”, Juri asked.
“I’ll hold her close. Never let her slip from my hands again… and together… we’ll shine”, Utena replied.
Juri watched the girl walk away and felt the hero’s strength. That girl had shown Juri twice that sometimes the real world could be forgotten and dreams could come true. Every time Juri tried to deny that Utena proved her wrong.
“What would happen if just once I did something for myself”, Juri asked herself. She still couldn’t answer the question. But she wanted to… and she would just have to find out for herself.
I begged for you
I longed for your touch
I watched you with another
I watched you hurt me
I watched your joy at seeing me in sadness
Every time I see you
I know what you want
Every time I see you
I know what you’ll take
Are you more breakable than I am
Is your heart so much stronger
Can you deny me any longer
She awoke as her hand hit the empty space next to her. It surprised her, the emptiness. She didn’t know she could feel such a thing. A veil of relief filled her as she heard the shower running. She hadn’t been abandoned. Just as she was about to settle back into the bliss of sleep she heard a small rap on the door. Blue-green eyes strained threw the darkness to catch the time on the clock. It was five a.m. She slipped off of her bed and padded over to the door with light and strong steps. She opened the door and was greeted by innocent yet cruel violet eyes.
“Shiori”, she questioned softly.
The girl before her looked ready to cry, but Juri recognized the look. She had seen it before.
“Can I come in”, Shiori asked politely. “I… couldn’t sleep and I… I…”
The violet-eyed girl tried to step inside but Juri got in her way.
“I’m sorry Shiori but you can’t come in”, Juri said firmly but softly.
Shiori looked up at Juri; crocodile tears ready to burst. “But Juri I need you… I-“
Juri smiled politely. “But you don’t Shiori. You don’t need me. If you need to talk I can talk with you tomorrow”, she said.
Shiori seemed taken back a bit. “Do you hate me that much now”, she asked innocently and cruelly all at once.
Juri looked down at the girl in front of her and sighed. “I’ve known you too long to ever truly hate you”, she began and Shiori seemed to get excited. “But”, Juri broke the excitement with her sincere tone; “You can not come in. Not tonight.”
“No. You don’t”, Juri interrupted. “You don’t know what that really is yet. I’ll talk to you tomorrow Shiori.”
And with that Juri closed the door. She sighed as she heard Shiori slowly walk down the dorm's hall. She brushed her light auburn hair back with her fingers and walked slowly back towards the bed. Just as she did she heard the shower stop and she smiled. The bathroom door opened slowly and a girl wrapped in a terry cloth robe leaned politely in the doorway.
“Who was that”, she asked softly. “Anyone I should worry about?” There was a playful sense to her tone. She walked over to Juri who was desperately trying to keep her balance.
“No one to worry about”, Juri stated. “Just an old friend with too much time on her hands.”
The girl smiled wistfully. Her eyes were bright and her smile was brighter. “Well”, she said softly as she wrapped her arms around Juri’s waist. “I guess I shouldn’t worry then.”
“No…you shouldn’t”, Juri replied her voice a mere whisper. She held the girl closer and wondered if the feeling she had was what it was to be free.
“You seem nervous”, the girl said as she looked into Juri’s eyes. “And a little lost.”
Juri sighed. “You’re the only other person I know who can do that”, she confessed. “You can see right through me. I”, she paused as the girl slipped from the embrace and began to walk over to the bed. “I just forgot for a moment.”
The girl didn’t ask any further questions. She knew what Juri meant. Juri walked over to the bed and sank into the warm arms that waited for her; happy in knowing that she finally did something for herself. She looked once more into the eyes of the girl next to her, deep and cruel as the ocean, but softer than the sky.
“There is cruelty and then there is total devastation”, the girl whispered. “And you don’t deserve either. Will you sing to me?”
“What shall I sing”, Juri asked.
“Something…deep”, the girl replied and took Juri into a kiss softer than tears and deeper than all expectations.
All I love
Is all I lose
But I’ll be true
All I need
Is in my arms
I’ll keep it safe from harm
My heart my heart was broken
For I wore it on my sleeve
I shall keep this moment safer
Than what she never felt for me
And I’ll sail down every ocean
And I’ll sing a long sad song
For though I know I have you
In the morning
You’ll be gone