DISCLAIMER: Artwork & canon storylines of Shoujo Kakumei Utena belong to Chiho Saito and Be-Papas.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I. An attempt at a less ooc version of a Juri/Anthy coupling than in "Sunny Day". I'd like to know what you think. II. In the language of flowers, the orange rose is said to symbolize desire. On my color palette, salmon is said to be a shade of orange.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
A Bird in the Hand
"Hah, there goes your rose, Kiryuu-san!"
With an elegant move, sneaky like the cat of prey she was compared to so often, Juri had cut the delicate flower from the president's chest. And while the bells were still announcing the end of the duel, the Dios no Ken vanished from his hand. She whipped her foil several times through the air, listening approvingly to the whistling sound.
"The Dios no Ken, dear Touga, is no katana, it's a saber. It's to be used in the noble art of fencing, not sword-wielding. You may be able to annoy Saionji and maybe impress Miki. But neither your smug attitude nor your blinding charms work on me. Ja, mata ashita. - Seitokai-chou."
Despite her triumphant victory her face did not betray any emotion. With the foil still in her hand she left the arena, ready to fight any moment, as if there were more opponents awaiting her on her way downward. She did not bother to wait for her prize. It would come to her in time.
In the evening, when she left the campus grounds towards the dormitories and her residence, she heard a soft voice behind her.
"Hello, I am the Ro-"
"Cut it out Anthy," she interrupted the girly shadow without turning around or even stopping. "We both know the procedure. I know who you are, and you know where I live. Now shut up."
The girl didn't seem to be affected by such rudeness. With an impersonal, frozen smile she followed the older student. Only the little monkey on her shoulder seemed to protest meekly, scowling at the back of their master.
When they entered the room and Juri switched on the light, her face became visible and the dark shadows under her eyes were starkly obvious.
Anthy had entered the room but stopped right next to the door. Expectantly she looked up at the victor. She did not speak. She just waited, while Juri carefully put her foil into the cabinet.
"Close the door, Anthy," she commanded with a low, steady voice.
The girl did as she was told. Then she turned back to Juri, awaiting the next instructions. Juri took a deep breath and sighed. She rubbed her temples, squeezing her eyes shut as she waited for the pain to fade.
"Stop looking at me like that."
The girl lowered her head.
"Ugh, I wish you'd just leave me alone."
The girl hesitated for a moment. Then she started to turn towards the door.
And the girl froze and turned back, still looking at the floor.
"You belong to me. You are not allowed to leave. Get some food. I think I need a shower."
When the girl opened her mouth to confirm the order, the fencer raised her hand to stop her.
"Don't. - Just. Don't. Say. Anything."
With that, she left for the bathroom, while Anthy set her suitcase aside and walked over to the kitchen. The monkey on her shoulder literally sprang to life, making smacking sounds and bouncing ecstatically.
She had found a few instant meals in the fridge and dutifully heated two of them. Every once in a while she would stop and signal the monkey to be quiet. When the running water of the shower still could be heard, she continued with her tasks.
Eventually, the dinner was prepared and the table had been set. The water in the shower had stopped and silence enveloped the room. Only the monkey was noisily chewing his crackers.
Anthy stood by the table like a statue, her hands clasped in front of her and her face bearing no expression at all. The silence prolonged and for a while, nothing happened.
Then, suddenly, there was a clattering sound coming from the bathroom, accompanied by some muffled curses. A few moments later Juri emerged, dressed in her night gown. The thin fabric itself was translucent, and transparent where the wet tips of her hair left wet trails.
Anthy was clearly admiring Juri's appearance and the fencer was just as clearly aware of it. But no words were spoken. They simply sat down to have dinner, in a silence that was only disturbed by their munching and by the monkey cracking his biscuits.
After dinner, Anthy cleaned up the table and Juri remained seated for a while longer, watching her Bride's silent, automated movements. When she finally got up as well, she slowly moved through the room and took a small narrow box from the window sill. She fished a pair of socks and a handkerchief from one of her drawers and put them into the box.
"Here, tuck your pet in and get ready for bed. I'll be waiting for you."
When Anthy returned from the bathroom, the only source of light in the room were the street lights. She crawled into the wide bed and settled in next to Juri. As soon as she lay still and the rustling of the covers had stopped, silent sobs started, and a strong arm snug around her waist and pulled her close to the taller body.
Juri spooned Anthy as closely as was physically possible and buried her face in the soft, rose scented curls. Anthy did not move. She closed her eyes as she heard a shaky voice close to her ear.
"I missed you."
The morning had found Juri still clutching the Rose Bride, more like a rag doll than a human being. Their morning routine had been accompanied by a ghostly silence. They had moved around without acknowledging each other, only a few glances to the side had betrayed knowledge of the other's presence.
Juri's face looked much healthier this morning; her composure was fully intact and her stance was one of her usual confidence. They had left the dorms together, but soon their ways would part. Juri stopped and turned to Anthy, who was walking a few feet behind her.
"Yo-she," she drawled mockingly, "the seitokai will meet after school. There's no need for you to be there. Go to your classes, tend to the roses, and come to the fencing hall. No delay."
The violet haired girl nodded and left for her morning classes, while Juri turned towards the senior high building. Her face still held a stoic expression, though her step seemed to be more powerful than it had been in the last few days.
"So, Arisugawa-chan, you got your pet back, ne?" Touga leant back in his chair, creating an aura of superiority around him with a smug grin. "I wonder what you've been doing with her; she seemed awfully quiet when she was with me."
Juri glared at him. "That's none of your business, Kiryu-san." She glared at the other two student council members. "Nor is it any of your business."
Miki looked at her thoughtfully. "But Juri-sempai, maybe it is our concern?"
"Exactly," Saionji jumped up. "You never cared about the Rose Bride or the power of revolution. Why are you suddenly so eager to own her, if you believe she is useless?"
Juri touched her chest where her uniform formed a small bulge. "Ahw, poor love struck Saionji," she mocked, "I never cared and still don't care about the Rose Bride, or the revolution you all are striving for." She grinned slyly. "But I wouldn't dub her useless."
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH HER!" Saionji roared.
Juri kept calm, cruel amusement mirrored in her eyes. "I'm doing nothing, she is merely doing everything I wish," Juri answered. "That's my right as the victor, after all."
Saionji was speechless. Touga, though, seemed to understand. "Whatever you do, Juri, keep in mind that the Rose Bride has been given to us by Ends of the World. We should see that she remains unharmed. I'm not too eager to find out what could happen when we fall into disgrace for mistreating the Rose Bride."
Miki quickly made notes from his stopwatch before he looked up, "Me neither."
Juri's hand fell from her chest. "Neither am I, don't worry. I'm doing her no harm." Saying that, she got up to leave. "Miki-kun, meet me in the fencing hall. We have real business to attend to."
"Maybe we will have more serious concerns soon, anyway." Juri had been almost past the door when she heard Touga's comment. "End of the World informed me that there will be another duelist joining the game soon."
Juri turned around. "Who?"
"We don't know yet, but maybe she'll be more to your liking, Arisugawa-chan?"
In the fencing hall, the club members waited for Juri and Miki to start the training. As always, many students had joined the lessons as visitors, fascinated by the fast and accurate, yet still artistic sport.
Juri looked around, searching for a familiar face. But instead of a face, her eyes suddenly stopped on a salmon colored rose, held by dark skinned hands. And as she looked further up, a small smile greeted her from behind crystal clear glasses.
The fencing team captain took her position in front of her students to repeat the lessons from the last training session. Calmly she explained every sequence and possible mistakes, while emerald eyes were following her every move.
After taking on several of the students to see if the lessons had been received and processed, Juri was exhausted. She took off her face mask and called for her best fencer.
"Miki, when you're done with the babies come over and continue here. Seems like they still haven't grasped it completely."
She started to open her fencing suite and took a deep breath. As she walked over to the side to sit down and watch for a while, her eyes traveled up to the visitors. Anthy was taking in the scent of the creamy colored blossom in her hands and when she looked up, dragon-green eyes were looking back at Juri and an evil glint lit up in her own eyes. She held her foil up as if she was greeting someone, then changed her direction and rushed to the locker room.
"Juri-sempai." Slowly, she turned around.
"Miracles need you to believe in them."
After her shower she had changed into a fresh uniform and left the fencing hall. Outside, the Rose Bride had been waiting for her.
She lifted her foil, pressing its tip under Anthy's chin.
The Rose Bride looked up, bringing the almost perfect blossom up with both her hands. "But miracles are not needed," she whispered.
Juri removed her foil and backhanded the smaller girl forcefully. Anthy fell to the ground, hitting it hard while she held on to the precious flower instead of using her hands to catch herself.
"Don't you dare," the duelist hissed, "don't you dare, Rose Bitch."
The fencing team captain turned her back to the fallen girl.
"Get cleaned up and come to my room."
When Anthy arrived at Juri's room, she hesitated for a moment before she knocked to announce her arrival.
Juri quickly answered the door but froze upon seeing Anthy, in her dust-stained school uniform, one cheek lightly abraded, the beautiful rose still clasped in her hands.
Juri turned away. "Come in - and close the door."
She turned back when she heard the door being locked.
Anthy stood there, her back pressed against the wood, her face expressionless and relaxed.
Juri moved closer. So close, that the rose crumpled between their bodies. Carefully, she took the girl's glasses, folded them and put them aside. Her hands feathered over Anthy's head, one by one she removed the hair pins, until the hair fell down in a loose wave of curls. She closed her eyes and combed her fingers through the violet tresses. Then, as her hand returned to the back of the neck, her fingers curled into a tight fist. Slowly pulling the hair down, she forced the Rose Bride to look up at her and inhaled the scent of the rose garden.
"Drop. The. Flower," she snarled.
The girl's arms fell loosely to her sides. As Juri's face moved closer, her lips started to quiver.
"You want this," she breathed, "don't you. You think no one knows. But it's you, always just you. Here's to your victor, Rose Witch - ," and she kissed the younger girl hard and imperiously, laying claim on her entire being with the forced connection.
The victorious duelist stopped when the girl started to respond to her kiss.
"No," she said firmly and let go of the girl. "If you want that, you have to convince me."
The Rose Bride's gaze was fixed on the fencer's hands, which slowly started to open the upper buttons of her uniform, revealing a golden chain around the pale neck.
"I know what a conniving little bitch you are, I know that the duels are not decided by swordmanship. It's you, you decide, you choose who wins in the end, don't you?"
She moved over to the bed, sitting down on the edge, the jacket of her uniform partly opened, giving sight to a golden locket.
"You're standing there, playing with us. You watch us aiming at our hearts with deadly blades. Making fools of ourselves while you go home with whomever you have chosen. - "
She grabbed the locket and kissed it. "But you don't fool me. You are mine now. And I will not be fooled into using the Dios no Ken by some fairy tale about world revolution. You chose me, and now it's my choice."
She leaned back on her hands, the fabric of her uniform stretching over her breasts.
"Come here, birdie, this is your prince," she taunted, "show me your desire to be with me, convince me that I am who you admire, who you chose."
And slowly, Anthy followed the daring words over to the bed. Stepping in front of her, she unbuttoned the fencer's jacket completely and then straddled her lap. She shoved her hands under the jacket and let it slide over Juri's shoulders. She avoided to meet the feral look in the duelist's eyes and started kissing her jawline and neck, while her hands were roaming over the soft skin the fallen jacket had revealed. Her actions were accompanied by a foggy silence, and even when she pushed her shoulders back, forcing the fencer to lie on her back, no sound escaped.
It was much later, that the silence had been broken by a mixture of gasps and sobs.
"I'm yours, little one! I'm yours... sweet Shiori, I'm yours... yours alone! ..."
And there were eyes looking down at her, a jaded green, poisoned with emptiness, and with only one more tear to cry.
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