DISCLAIMER: Artwork & canon storylines of Shoujo Kakumei Utena belong to Chiho Saito and Be-Papas.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
She could see the baseball field from her window.
She was everywhere. Like the sun she seemed to bring light into every corner, even reflected several times she still chased away every shadow. The pink haired miracle was winning again. On every level. And Juri couldn't help but smile. It was a somewhat rueful smile, but a smile nonetheless.
She turned away and surveilled the room. Being a member of the student council certainly had its benefits. She had a room for herself, spacious and light-flooded. The complete opposite of what she felt inside.
The building was empty at this time of the day. Classes had ended almost an hour ago, and the students spent some time in their respective clubs and groups before they would return to their rooms to take care of their homework.
Miki was probably playing piano or teaching some senior girls a few accords, not realizing how they were falsely fawning over him because he was cute and innocent and no danger at all, unlike their male peers, who tended to have more... primal... desires. Touga and Saionji were out, practicing. Or so they had said. At least they had the decency to make a weak effort of keeping the facade and took their bokken with them when they left for the park.
So she was alone. Watching baseball from her window; standing in the shadows and watching the sun conquer every spot of the campus ground as she moved around.
Then, there was an unexpected knock at her door interrupting her musings. She took a deep breath and brushed both her hands through her thick mane. She did not want to move. She did not want to be interrupted, she wanted to wallow some more in her self-assigned loneliness. But when there was another knock she went to open the door.
There was Anthy, the Rose Bride, standing in her doorway. Certainly unexpected, but not really surprising. Juri looked back over her shoulder to the window. The game was still on.
"Anthy, what are you doing here? Why aren't you with Utena?"
And then she saw what had not been seen in a very long time, what was so rare in itself that it was almost a miracle.
"Anthy," she whispered, "Anthy, are you crying?"
Tears were clearly glistening in those sea green orbs and the sight was tugging at the remains of her heart. She stepped aside and with a gracious gesture of her hand asked the dark skinned girl to come in.
"Thank you, Juri-sempai. I hope I am not disturbing you."
"No, Anthy. You are not disturbing anything. I was just watching the goings-on of the campus."
Her guest turned to the window and smiled weakly. This went not unnoticed by the older girl and it brought her back to the obvious question.
"So, shouldn't you be out there, cheering for you champion?"
"Yes, Juri-sempai, I probably should, but the sun is so bright today that I needed to rest in the shadow for a while. And it's so pleasantly cool in these old stone buildings..."
Juri replied with a knowing smile, "Yes, it sure is cool in here," and motioned for the tea table. "Come sit with me, Anthy, have some tea with me."
Anthy nodded. "Yes, Juri-sempai." She still looked sad. But there was also something hopeful in her eyes now.
Juri felt a light pinch in her chest. She knew she had no right to do this. But it had been so long. And she needed some comfort. Indeed, it seemed as if they both needed it.
"Like we used to?"
"If you wish, Juri-sempai, like we used to."
"Will it get you into trouble?" Juri knew all too well it could get Anthy into trouble. But the current victor was nothing like Saionji and she doubted that she would hurt the Bride or punish her in any way.
Anthy's eyes traveled back to the window. "No, Juri-sempai, I don't think so."
Now it was Juri's turn to be sad. And it was not for herself but for the Rose Bride. And not even for her, but for Anthy.
"I see. Well then," she kneeled at one side of the table and patted the mat beside her, "come, sit with me, Anthy."
Juri knew. Juri knew Anthy's secret. She had known from the start, when she first saw them together. It was odd, but she knew that Anthy would be happy to get into trouble with her champion for being so intimately close with another duelist. She knew she longed for it, wished for it. It would mean that Utena cared. Not just as a friend.
As they sat down, their thighs touched. And Juri felt a familiar jolt traveling through her body. And the memory of times when such a contact would lead to hours of sweetness and passion rose from her dark spotted soul. There had been a time, when the Rose Bride had been hers and pretended to be everything she could not have. Or wouldn't let herself have.
She loved Anthy. But her heart was chained, and in the end this had cost her the one soul that she cared about that also cared about her. The chains around her heart had also restrained her determination, and she had lost the fight when it turned into an act of will and faith rather than skill and physical strength.
For a while, they sat in silence, facing the window, watching the game from afar, each lost in her own twisted trains of thought. Until Juri felt a weight pressing against her side and she had to lean on her hand to not lose balance and tip over. Anthy had fallen against her arm, pressing her face against the sleeve of Juri's pristine white student council uniform. It was as if all strength had left Anthy's body.
Juri turned to her companion. She gently moved her away, holding her up with one arm and lifting her chin with two fingers of the other hand. It pained her to see tears on this beautiful face. And it pained her even more to know the reason for those tears.
"Anthy?" she asked with a hoarse voice. It had been a long time since she had been so close to her. She searched those tearful eyes for advice, for permission, for... something. But all she could see was someone. Someone far away, smiling brightly. And suddenly she had the urge to take the pain away, to make it better, to comfort this girl that had never truly been hers. She couldn't think of anything to say. So she did the only thing that came to her mind while she was looking at this tear-stricken face: She kissed her.
It was a chaste kiss at first. A tentative touch of lips. Anthy did not move away, but she remained passive. Juri stopped for a moment but found herself unable to let go and kissed her again, trying to coax a reaction from those delicate lips that always had a bittersweet taste of roses. But there was no reaction. Anthy lowered her head until their foreheads touched.
"She still hasn't claimed you."
Anthy slightly shook her head 'no'. And Juri could see more tears falling.
"You need to tell her, Anthy."
The dark head moved up and so Juri also looked up and met the gaze of watery green eyes. She smiled and gently wiped the tears away with her thumb.
"Don't worry, I'm sure she loves you. Even if she shouldn't have realized it yet. She risked her life for you many times, she did more than anyone would do for their friends. You and I, we both know that her sword fighting skills do not match those of the rest of the student council. We all should be able to defeat her, but we cannot defeat her love and the strength born from the soul-deep fear of losing you."
There was a silent sob, "But..."
Juri pulled her friend into a fierce hug and held her close.
"There are no buts, Anthy. Her heart and her love are pure and she would never take what's not given to her freely. You need to tell her, convince her, that this is what you want. This time, it's up to you to take what is rightfully yours. You may not be allowed to tell her with words, but I'm sure you will find a way of letting her know. And she will understand, trust me, because she wants to understand, she wants to believe."
As they parted, Anthy wiped the rest of the tears from her eyes. "Thank you, Juri-sempai."
"You're welcome, Anthy. Always." Juri winked and they got up. The game outside was still going.
Anthy was about to turn and leave when Juri suddenly grabbed her wrist to stop her.
"Anthy, would you grant me one last kiss?" her smile turned in to a cocky grin, as she explained, "for the sake of old times and as an inspiration for later... "
And Anthy nodded and leaned in and let herself be chased and captured by the beautiful leopard. Her dark hands clutched the white fabric of the uniform as she moaned in pleasure, determined to find and claim her very own source of sweetness and passion this night.
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