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Gougai! Gougai!

HOLY SHIT PEOPLE, IT'S NOT BAD ENOUGH WE'RE GETTING AN UTENA EXHIBITION RIGHT NOW

THEY. ARE. MAKING. A. NEW. MUSICAL. NEXT. YEAR. START LOSING YOUR SHIT RIGHT NOW

#1 | Back to Top09-03-2008 09:28:08 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

[fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE 1: Why hellooo potential readers. Please feel free to comment/critique/suggest character voices/change honorifics/whatever about any of this fic. Part of it is existing in an un-beta-ed state and as such, is open to your hot little hands. I truly don't mind criticism as it makes fics get better. Yet if you'd rather just read it over lunch (spilling crumbs all over your keyboard) and not comment, that's good too. I'll be posting up chapters pretty much as I write them, so this forum is 1st port of call.

If you want to know what you're looking at here, this is an Utena/Anthy post-anime novella, Utena's point of view. The genre is "angsty drama with romance and a dash of humor". Major players will be the aforementioned duo and Akio, and many of our favourite student council members. And ChuChu of course.

The central idea behind this fic (without giving too much away) is that my take is that even the so-innocent-and-trusting-Utena wouldn't just snap her fingers and get over the events of the final duel (or who did what to whom and why) emot-aaaemot-aaaemot-aaa. But she would still have to deal with them using her "Utena-nature". Which is a kind of unique pov, not likely to be shared by any other character...


Roses Grow
by sharnii

Chapter 1: The Way Home
My first solid memory after the last duel is of Anthy. I heard a voice, her familiar voice calling my name as I rose up through jagged points of darkness.
“Utena-sama? Utena-sama, can you hear me?”
I opened my eyes. My vision was blurry at first but as I stared up I found myself staring into her deep green eyes. Long purple hair swirled like fire about her head (I said my eyes were blurry!) as she leaned over my bed. One small hand was pressed to my breastbone in that most familiar place.
“Utena-sama,” she whispered. “Can you hear me?”
“Himemiya?” I gasped.
Her smile was like the rising sun.
“Utena,” she said and her eyes filled with tears.

* * *

Anthy took me home from the hospital in her little green car. I remember looking up at a rickety apartment building with some surprise.
“I thought you’d be rich,” I joked.
Anthy laughed primly behind her hand. She was wearing a pale blue skirt-suit made of some kind of soft material - I'm not really good with clothes' names. I knew it was soft because I'd reached out to touch her arm for reassurance during the drive. I was wearing jeans and a soft blue t-shirt that both fit surprisingly well, considering I was seeing them for the first time today. I wondered how she'd known my clothing size. Then I sighed. She had been the rose bride after all.
“Can you walk?” Anthy asked.
“Hey Himemiya, what do you mean?! Of course I can walk! I’m a champion athlete. You know that!” I vaulted over the passenger door to prove my point, and promptly crumpled on the pavement. I was still sitting there in shock when Anthy calmly walked around to bend over me.
“Let me help you,” she said softly.
Still aghast over my own weakness, I accepted her pulling my right arm over her shoulder quite docilely. Together we made our way into the building and up its steep and winding stairway. I tried to walk mostly by myself but found my knees were liquid, and I kept stumbling over my own feet. I was leaning with practically my whole weight on Anthy's narrow shoulders but it didn’t seem to bother her. Somehow, she felt as steady as a rock. She seemed to have no trouble half-dragging me along.
"You're, uh, a lot stronger then you look," I commented.
Her response was thoughtful. "Things aren't often what they seem."

* * *

By the time we finally arrived at Anthy’s unit (naturally it had to be at the very top of the building) I was covered in sweat and breathing hard. Anthy by contrast seemed as fresh as the proverbial daisy. I felt unusually weak and dizzy as I watched her gracefully retrieve her keys and open the door, all with me draped over her like some deadweight. My helplessness was embarrassing and inside I boiled with frustration.
"Sit over here," she suggested, all but carrying me over to the centrepiece of her lounge room, an antique-looking russet couch.
"What's wrong with me?" I groaned. I sank onto the couch with utter relief. Putting my arms over its back I arched my torso into a stretch.
"Better," I sighed. "Uhhh."
Dimly I noticed Anthy was leaning over me again, her fingers rifling through my bangs unsticking them from my sweaty forehead.
"You need tea," she decided.
I couldn't help but roll my eyes. That was always her solution to everything.
"I don't like tea," I lied grumpily but she was already disappearing into the kitchenette I could see to my right.
"Figures," I sighed. She sure could move fast when she wanted to.
Taking the time to look around myself I thought that perhaps Anthy was rich after all! The outside of the building might not be much, but the insides of this unit were extravagant. I looked in wonder at hanging wall-length tapestries and well-stocked intricately carved bookshelves. Squinting I tried to make out a few titles.
"The Rose of Versailles", I read aloud. "Legend of the White Snake, The Cask of Amontillado, Grimoire for the Green Witch."
I blinked. What lousy taste. Where were the trashy manga I liked to read so much? These books looked so serious!
"The Kingdom of Slender Swords, Enheduanna Priestess of Inanna, The Kama Sutra."
I couldn't help but yawn. Anthy's book collection looked very boring to me, not my taste at all. And these were only the Japanese versions! The grand majority of the books had titles in foreign script...just how many languages did Anthy know anyway?
Bored with the books I looked around some more.  The general colour scheme consisted of deep reds and greens with furniture of old dark wood. Very Anthy. I then noticed the coffee table in front of me resembled a giant chessboard without any pieces, with a vase of blood-red roses at its centre.

I suppressed a shudder without really knowing why. Anthy picked that moment to glide back in, bearing a silver tea-tray holding a rose-china set. She sat next to me and poured my tea while I admired her delicate gestures.
“Did you decorate this place?” I asked.
“Yes,” she smiled, “it was fun."
“It’s very you.”
She looked around her. “You think so, Utena-sama?”
“It couldn’t be more so,” My tone was dry. I thought about reminding her to call me just Utena, but I was so tired it just seemed like too much effort.
“Chuuuuu!” A familiar funny-looking monkey-rat-thing leapt onto my lap from out of nowhere, brandishing a cookie.
“ChuChu!” I exclaimed. “Where’ve you been? Is that cookie for me?”
"Chuuuu!" he squeaked, and promptly started stuffing the cookie down his greedy little gullet.
"Well that's disappointing," I said, glaring down at him.
"You want a cookie?" Immediately Anthy's soft hand pressed a cookie into mine. I shivered at her touch.
Like so many things between us it was fraught with meaning, while simultaneously meaning nothing at all. I think it was just the tiredness but I grew reflective.
I don't understand her, I thought while looking down and munching on the cookie. I never have. Maybe I never will.
But somehow it didn't matter on that sleepy afternoon, as her thigh pressed up against mine on the couch.
My breathing slowed, the cookie crumbled pleasantly in my mouth, the tea was sweet.
ChuChu bounced on my knees, and Anthy drank her tea while staring at my face with luminous green eyes.
I gazed back and felt happy.

TBC in Chapter 2: What Not to Talk About

Last edited by sharnii (09-03-2008 09:32:27 PM)

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#2 | Back to Top09-03-2008 09:58:34 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Chapter 2: What Not to Talk About

That first night Anthy helped me get ready for bed. She provided me with pajamas of blue flannel, while she wore a long nightgown of palest violet. My hands trembled with weariness as I pulled my pants on. I struggled with pulling my tshirt over my head. Gracefully Anthy slipped behind me to help. I sighed at the sensation of warm hands ghosting along the chilly panes of my back. Then her hands lingered for long moments over the raised scar on my lower back. I froze.

Ever so slowly one hot hand inched around my waist to cover the exit wound under my right breast. A wave of some indefinable emotion pulsed through me. Helpless to control my reaction, I tore away. Pulling on my pajama shirt I took a few steps toward the wide white bed.

ChuChu was bouncing up and down on the pillows.
“ChuChu! You naughty thing!” I exclaimed, glad to pretend that nothing had happened. I sensed Anthy unmoving behind me, but I kept focused on ChuChu. I dived at the mouse-monkey but he slipped right through my hands, the crafty beast. He bounced over to the dresser where he chattered cheekily at me in the mirror. I flopped down and rolled onto my back, all of a sudden too tired to chase after him. Instead I watched Anthy as she slowly crossed to turn off the lamp, before hopping into bed next to me. Her face was inscrutable.

As always she wore her long hair loose for bed, and her glasses were still conspicuously absent. She turned onto her right side to gaze at me, and just like in the Chairman’s tower the night sky was laid out behind her in glory. (Wall-length windows leading to a slight balcony were responsible for this effect – this was some ritzy apartment!) As always she was beautiful.

“Himemiya,” I breathed wonderingly. She looked so mysterious in the dim light, with stars about her head. “Who are you?”
She blinked.
“I asked you that once,” she said. “Do you remember?”
I searched my mind.
“Ah, you said you were watching my face as I slept. That I seemed familiar to you, right?”
“Yes.” Her hand reached over to hold mine in that old familiar way.
The ritual had always calmed me, but now it did more. It was getting hard to think clearly.
“Are you sleepy, Utena-sama?” Anthy’s fingers slowly stroked mine.
“I…I guess I am,” I admitted. I yawned and my eyes began to drift shut.
“Does the scar hurt?” she asked so, so softly.
My eyes snapped open and I stared at her in silent horror. How could she ask me that?
“No,” I snapped. I deliberately closed my eyes. Yet I could still feel her looking at me. Her hand had tightened on mine. Now slowly she began to stroke my fingers again. I felt my stomach flip-flop.
“Sorry Himemiya”, I whispered, unable to bring myself to look at her.
Was there a catch in her voice when she answered? “There is nothing for you to be sorry for."
I sighed and tightened my hand on hers.

* * *

I woke to Anthy with a breakfast tray, sitting cross-legged facing me with a smile that was somehow both demure and devilish.
“Time to wake up, sleepy-head,” she said. “Or ChuChu will eat all our breakfast.”
I sat up in double record time.
“He better not,” I grumped, rubbing fiercely at eyes gritty with sleep. “Oi Himemiya, I’m so hungry.”
“That’s a good sign,” she noted passing over a plate of western-style scrambled eggs. They looked delicious.
“Reallysh?” I mumbled, my mouth already full as I started shoveling it down. “Hey, these are really good! How come these taste really good?”
“What are you saying?” Anthy looked slightly put out.
“Oh nothing,” I lied, shuddering inside at the memory of Anthy’s usual breakfasts. “Just, thank you. This tastes great.”
“It’s no problem.” She began to eat.
Her long-ago voice echoed in my ears adding to that sentiment, ‘I’m the rose bride.’ I closed my eyes.
“I should cook from now on,” I decided.
Anthy smiled at me and her eyes were very gentle.
“Alright,” she allowed. “You can cook…sometimes.”
Later that morning after Anthy had left for work I discovered the takeout containers in the trash.
“Hmph,” I muttered to ChuChu. “She could of just said.”


* * *

Still weak after the hospital for no particular reason that I could fathom, I spent the next fortnight loitering around the unit. Accordingly I grew exceedingly bored. I would grow weary so quickly there was no use in trying to exercise (although I did make quite a few abortive attempts. When I failed after a measly two sit-ups ChuChu would come and bounce on my chest). Besides Anthy had explicitly forbidden me to leave our new home.

“Why?” I asked her one morning, lounging on the bed and watching her dress for work. She still hadn’t told me what her job actually was.
“You need to rest,” she said firmly. “And it’s not…safe out there.”
“It’s not?” I absently poked ChuChu as he played on my stomach. It seemed to be his new favourite place. “Why not? How come you can go out but not me?”

Anthy looked exasperated, which was a wholly new expression for me to see on her face. Like all these new expressions, she masked it quickly which I attributed to long habit.
“It’s not safe for you,” she modified her original statement. “Just…believe me, Utena. It’s not safe for now. You need to stay here and get better.”
“I’m not sick,” I grouched. “I’m just…very unfit.”
One slim eyebrow arched at me.
“Fine,” I gave in. “But I can’t stay here forever. I feel so cooped up.”
“I know,” her voice was soft as she came to sit on the edge of the bed and pet ChuChu along with me. “Don’t worry, it’s just for a little while.”
“Okay, Okay.” My fingers entwined with hers of their own accord.

And then, like moving in a dream I brought her hand to my lips. I heard her startled intake of breath and dropped her hand in a hurry. We stared at each other. Then she dropped her eyes.
“Work,” she murmured, “I’ll be late.” She rushed from the room. It was rare to see her flustered…I stared after her feeling flustered myself.
My lips burned where they’d touched her.

TBC in Chapter 3: A Time to Leave

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#3 | Back to Top09-03-2008 10:00:30 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Chapter 3: A Time to Leave

By the beginning of my third week of incarceration, I was going crazy. I paced the apartment restlessly. I even had a route.
Bedroom. Circle the bed. Pause to finger the soft material of Anthy’s folded nightgown.
Bathroom. Stare helplessly into the mirror. Think that my eyes looked somehow different. Often pull up my shirt to check if that raised scar was real. Turn around to look at its twin on my back disbelievingly.
Bedroom. Pace restlessly. Avoid looking in the dresser mirror.
Balcony. Lean on the railing while staring down at the city. Had things really changed? They looked the same… Stare up at the sky. When it was very blue I would feel a sense of deep unease begin to eat away at me. I would retreat quickly.
Hallway. Pause and stare mindlessly at the two lonely photos on the wall. I knew them by heart. On the right wall was the photo of Anthy and I, with ChuChu on her shoulder. On my shoulder rested a masculine arm in a long red sleeve…cut off at the elbow. On the left wall hung a photo of the gates of Ohtori…from the outside. It didn’t look right to me. Unreal.
Loungeroom. Stalk around and around the russet couch. Eye the books. Perhaps flop down on said couch and make a cursory effort of reading one. Give up after about two minutes. Throw it down in frustration.
Kitchenette. Peer into the fridge for food. Decide that my roiling stomach couldn’t handle any. Collapse at the table and stare down at it with my head in my hands. Stare at ChuChu tugging futilely on my wrist. Leap up and shove chair to floor, not sure why my emotions were reeling.
Begin again.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat with minor variations.
Finally…
Hear Anthy fumbling with lock. Race to return abandoned books to bookshelf and chair to table. Plonk down in chair just as she entered kitchen.
Smile artlessly and ask how her day was.
Avoid her knowing gaze.

* * *

When she returned home on Friday evening there was a strange light in her eyes.
“It’s time,” she told me, sitting down across from me.
“Eh? Time for what?” I asked. I noticed vaguely how her red blouse hugged her curves. Then I blushed.
I looked up to see her amused eyes watching me.
“Time for us to leave this apartment. At least long enough for me to take you to dinner.”
“Oooh really?” I was beside myself with excitement. “Gee Himemiya, that’s fantastic! I’m dying to go outside; I can’t stand it in this rattrap.”
“I know it’s been hard,” she acknowledged, “but you’ve needed the time to grow stronger. Your energy has returned, right?”
I thought about that. If energy counted as restless pacing…
“Where are we going?” I followed her into the bedroom, bouncing lightly with excitement.
Her smile was coy. “It’s a secret.”

* * *

We walked to the “secret” which turned out to be a cosy restaurant only blocks away. I found my hand of its own volition slipping into Anthy’s. We strolled in companionable silence. The air was fresh, if a little cold; it emphasized the warmth of our clinging hands. I found the unbearable tension that had been mounting in me start to slide away.

After only two blocks my breath began to shorten. Once again my weakness filled me with irritation. I didn’t notice I was growling under my breath until I felt ChuChu’s soft paws stroking my neck, from his sudden perch on my shoulder. Anthy had also slowed her pace to match mine.
“Don’t worry, Utena”, she said softly. “It’s to be expected.”
“I can’t help it,” I said, in a rare moment of self-insight. “I have to be strong. I have to be ready. Who knows who’ll come after you next? I have to protect you!”
She had stopped walking now and was turned to me, her eyes wide in the moonlight.
“Is that what you want?” One dark hand reached up to cup my cheek.
I leaned helplessly into her touch.
“Yes,” I whispered. “More than anything.”
“That’s funny,” she whispered back, “it’s what I want for you.”
I stared down at her, suddenly at a loss.
“But why? I don’t need protecting…do I?”
Her eyes seemed to darken, and her hand fell away.
“More than you know.” She wouldn’t say anything more. I sighed. She could be annoying like that.

In the restaurant we sat at a secluded corner table, hidden behind a large potted tree. Anthy ordered a very old red wine, which made me wrinkle my nose at its bitterness. I appreciated its warmth though as it slid down my throat. We were gazing at each other over our glasses when the unexpected happened.

A man pushed past the potted plant and stood towering over us.
“It is you!” Touga pushed his long red hair out of sharp blue eyes. His voice lowered to almost reverent tones.
“Tenjou Utena…”
I blushed. Anthy grimaced. ChuChu leapt onto Touga’s designer shoe and started biting his ankle. Touga hopped around in pain.
“Get off me, you foul…demon…monkey!”
I got to my feet, intending to pull ChuChu off his victim and the second surprise crashed past the plant.
“Kiryuu, where the hell have you gotten to?”
Saionji stopped and stared at us, his jaw dropping.
“You!” he growled at me. Then he saw my tablemate. “Anthy-san”, he muttered sounding like a man drowning.
“This is bad,” I murmured just as the third and final surprise flicked the plant aside and stood there in smart white slacks and shirt.
“I see,” said Juri, her voice quite calm. But her eyes didn’t look calm at all.

* * *

Now we all shared the corner table, staring surreptitiously at each other and downing too much wine. Our meals came and at first we ate in silence. Touga obligingly ordered more of the expensive red. He winked at me over his glass. His long fingers stroked the rim. Saionji glared at me. Juri stared at me and fingered her locket. I felt a hand stroke my knee and threw a startled glance at Anthy who was now seated to my right. She smiled in what looked suspiciously like gentle amusement. ChuChu sat on my lap and growled.

Juri was the first to break the awkward silence.
“So Himemiya-san…you found her, I see. How fortunate. How long ago was the happy reunion?”
To my surprise Anthy actually looked slightly uncomfortable. Her hand stilled on my knee. A pause. Finally as though the words were torn out of her:
“Three weeks ago.”
I looked up to see three jaws fallen open and three identically shocked expressions. A piece of spinach fell out of Saionji’s open mouth and onto the table. ChuChu pounced on it with relish.
“Charming, Saionji,” said Touga, recovering himself first. Saionji glared at him.
“Three weeks,” repeated Juri faintly. “That’s all?”
“Why?” I asked, wondering at the strange reaction.
“Still not the brightest bulb in the lamp, are we Tenjou?” smirked Saionji. “Well some things never change, no matter how much time passes.”
“Time?” I muttered, glowering at him while feeling a little lost.
“Look at me, Utena-san,” commanded Juri. I did.
“How old do I look?” asked the redhead. I was surprised by Anthy’s hand tightening suddenly on my knee.
“Um,” I said, glancing at Anthy out of the corner of my eye. She looked worried.
“Um, you look…” I felt confused as I looked, really looked at Juri for the first time that night. She didn’t look the same, that was for sure. Her hair seemed shorter, and merely wavy where once it had held tight curls. There was actually a light sprinkle of freckles dusted over her nose. That was new. My eyes trailed down past the locket (was it the same?) to sinuous curves. Was Juri…bigger?
“Utena-san,” prompted the object of my attention. I blushed.
“Uh, I guess you look different. Older.”
“The idiot has eyes,” muttered Saionji.
“Beautiful eyes,” amended Touga.
I frowned at both of them. Then I noticed they both looked older too. Taller. Broader shoulders. Saionji’s hair not quite as wild, although his intense green eyes still held the same crazy light. Said eyes were fixed dreamily on Anthy. I contemplated hitting him.
“It’s been five years,” said Juri quietly. My attention whipped back to her. I felt my own eyes growing wide as a sudden chill snaked down my spine.
“Five years, Utena-san,” she repeated. “Five long years since that godforsaken duel of revolution.”

* * *

TBC in Chapter 4: Enter the Swords

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#4 | Back to Top09-14-2008 08:53:50 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Well as you can see (if you're reading this note lol) we now have more of the Utena cast joining the post-anime angst. If anybody knows the correct Japanese form of address for Touga > Juri, and Juri > Touga, please let me know (assuming I got it wrong here).

Chapter 4: Enter the Swords

Five years… Juri’s pronouncement rang in my head.
My eyes went automatically to Anthy. I stared at her bowed head, searching for answers, searching for the truth. For some reason, I would believe it only from her.
“Himemiya?” I asked. My voice shook.
At that she turned to face me. Her hand lifted from my knee to my clenched forearm. It hovered there as though uncertain of my reaction.
“It’s true,” she said.
I stared at her uncomprehendingly. I stared back toward Juri who was biting her lip. Touga was watching me carefully. Even Saionji looked strangely sympathetic.
“Five years,” I repeated faintly. I looked down at my hands, and for the first time noticed their thin tracery of scars. They looked newly healed…surely it couldn’t have been five years? In my head I was suddenly back at the gate to eternity, prying at it desperately. Warm blood was leaking down my stomach and back as I strained with all my might. My hands slipped on the door. They were rubbed raw but I had no choice. All my life had been leading to this single moment. I had to open it…no choice…had to…

“Utena!” Anthy’s voice was surprisingly firm. I felt her warm hands clasping my cold ones. I looked up into green eyes shining with unshed tears. It was enough to rouse me.
“Sorry,” I muttered. “I don’t know…I didn’t…” I trailed off uncertainly.
There was an uncomfortable silence at our table. Finally Juri broke it.
“Well I want to know,” she declared. She stared aggressively at Anthy.
“What happened at that duel? Where has Utena-san been?”
“What makes you ask me, Senpai?” Anthy’s voice was like ice.
“You were there!” exploded Juri, bringing her fists down violently on the table. “And now you are here, the only one of us to find Utena-san after all this time! What are we supposed to think?”
“It’s suspicious, isn’t it?” noted Touga, undisturbed by Juri’s obvious rage.
“Is it?” said Anthy. She had become very stiff beside me.
“Tell me!” hissed Juri leaning forward and getting right in Anthy’s face. “I demand to know. We, the rose duelists who were trapped in that crazy game demand to know.”
“It was you and…Akio-san,” put in Touga. “You were behind the insanity there. Weren’t you.” It wasn’t a question.
“You played with us,” Saionji spat bitterly.
“You used us!” said Juri.
“Stop it!” I cried, leaping to my feet.
They all stared up at me uncomprehendingly.
I felt myself blush, but was angry enough to continue. I put a shaking hand on Anthy’s narrow shoulder.
“The past is the past. Everyone here has secrets I’m sure, secrets they’d rather not share.” I glared at Touga meaningfully. “Don’t let Ohtori spoil this world too.” My eyes went to Anthy’s and my next words were just for her:
“This world where we met.”
Hesitantly she smiled up at me.
“Still playing prince, Utena-san,” said Juri as I sat back down. Her tone was half-derisive but her eyes had softened.
“Hardly playing,” said Touga admiringly. “We’re all here aren’t we? Somehow…”
They all looked at me again, expectantly, hoping for explanations I didn’t have.

“I, um,” my voice faltered. “I don’t really remember much. I mean, for me I just woke up…” I trailed off as Anthy cut me off.
“I found her in a hospital,” she revealed. Her hand was back on my knee and I knew she was only speaking now to save me from having to.
“Three weeks ago,” Anthy continued to enraptured looks. “After five years of searching. The years have been…very long.”
“You couldn’t find her?” wondered Juri disbelievingly. “With all your…resources?”
“No,” admitted Anthy. “It was…confusing. I half suspected…”
“Akio-san,” guessed Touga.
“Yes,” said Anthy.
“End of the World,” hissed Juri.
“That bastard,” put in Saionji, glancing scornfully at Touga for some reason.
“Really?” I felt so confused. “But after the last duel…”
“He was still at Ohtori,” Anthy told me, her hand stroking my knee. “Planning on re-running the duels.”
“Oh.” I looked down. So much for me revolutionizing the world…a sudden thought jerked my head back up. “But you left?”
Anthy smiled at me tenderly. “I’m here aren’t I?”
That reassured me. Around me the conversation went on, as the others discussed Akio’s probable motives in-depth, and exchanged insults. I however was lost in the hazy past, struggling to remember. My mind fumbled through the jagged pieces:

Anthy taking my hand as we ascended together. The shock of seeing Akio revealed as my prince. A moment of wanting to rest in his eager arms, to rely submissively on his strength. Then…remembering Anthy. Seeing only deadness and pain in her eyes. Wanting above all things, to make that pain go away. To see her smile and be convinced of the smile. To save her!

I remembered the sword. And I skipped past it as always. For some reason my mind refused to settle, refused to believe what had happened. Instead I rushed forward to the cloud of angry swords attacking Anthy in the sky. My heart tore in two and was the only pain I was aware of as I stumbled forward, screaming her name. My will was the sword to beat against the rose gates – nothing could hold me back. I pried them open. I saw eternity…and it was Anthy. I reached…but…she fell. My world fell with her…and the castle of eternity rained down on me from the bluest of skies…as did the swords…


“Utena-san!” Juri’s voice broke me out of my stupor.
“Uh, y…yeah?” I blinked at her. Somehow I still saw a swarm of hungry swords descending on me...reflected in her piercing eyes.
“What do YOU think that bastard is doing?” she asked expectantly. I swallowed…the swords were rushing closer…Juri’s mouth opened again and more words came out, only this time I couldn’t hear them. A buzzing kind of clanging was filling up my mind. Metal on metal; no it was more like a mob of jeering voices. Juri’s mouth moved and I could see the words didn’t match up but it seemed like the mob was speaking through her.

“You’ve already failed,” she said, her eyes filling with swords. “Go home, little girl. That’s all you are, a girl playing dress-up. Pretending to be a prince. Ha! You can’t save the rose bride. You can’t save anyone. You said it yourself. Didn’t you? Didn’t you?!”

“No!” I cried.
“What?” I heard Juri ask. Then with new urgency: “What is it? What?”
“Swords,” I muttered pressing my fists to my eyes. My head was pounding in time with my heart. I felt sick to my stomach. It was hard to think.
“What’s wrong with her?” I heard Juri ask, as Touga said, “What does she mean by that?” I felt Anthy’s (surprisingly strong) arm go around my waist and she was urging me to my feet. I wrapped an arm over her shoulders and let her usher me out of the restaurant. I could hear the others clamoring behind us.

We were halfway down the street, when Touga and Juri caught up with us.
“Saionji’s paying,” Juri said with a slight smirk. “Here,” that to Anthy, “let her lean on me.” She tried to take me.
“No, let me carry her,” said Touga to Anthy. I could feel the heat of Anthy’s glare without even looking at her.
“No, no,” I said somewhat disgruntled at all this unnecessary attention. “I’m fine.” I pulled away from Anthy to demonstrate, although I immediately missed her warm support.
“Really,” said Touga disbelievingly. “That’s why you almost fainted into your soup? Or did Juri-san scare you?”
“Enough,” said Anthy, taking my hand and attempting to drag me down the street. “We have to go.”
“Why?” said Juri, “and what about us? You can’t do this, Himemiya-san. You can’t control events just because you desire to.”
“You understand nothing,” said Anthy. She dragged at my hand and I went with her. Touga and Juri followed, still protesting.
Before we could get very far, a car roared up beside us, as green as the shocking-green hair of its driver.
“Hop in,” said Saionji. “You want to run home for some secret reason? Well, this will be faster.”

TBC in Chapter 5: The Tea Garden

My gratitude to Lady Chani for beta-reading. emot-keke

Last edited by sharnii (09-24-2008 05:53:52 AM)

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#5 | Back to Top09-24-2008 05:52:38 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I hate it when you get into the meaty part of a fanfic piece (I'm at chapter 9 at the moment - you may note that I like to edit compulsively and "sit" on writing before posting, as well as getting it run by a beta), and you realise...hey, this would be easier if I had written it in third person. emot-gonk emot-aaa emot-redface But too late now.

We're stuck with Utena 1st person and so the readers can only know what Utena knows. And sometimes she doesn't know what I want her to know (what I the god-like author knows! Heh). Or there's no way she could know something without it being completely unrealistic. *sigh* Well, I suppose I could switch POV at certain points...I have been bashed for this practice in the past *gasp* as some people believe it to be truly bad writing style. At the same time Jodie Picoult does it. school-devil

Any opinions out there? My fellow authors? Beautiful readers? Is it legitimate to switch POV in a piece? At any point? When you're writing in 1st person can you only switch to another 1st person account? Or can you go the whole hog and shift gears into 3rd?! Ah the trials and tribulations of tenses...


Chapter 5: The Tea Garden

I was exhausted. I sat in the back seat of Saionji’s car, squeezed snugly between Anthy and Juri. I could hear the guys talking in low murmurs in the front.
“So what happened?” Juri’s thigh pressed warmly against my own.
“You’re so persistent,” I groaned, leaning my head back. I just wanted to sleep. “I don’t know…the swords were there…I don’t know why.” I led my eyes slide shut.
“Swords? What swords?” I felt Juri lean over me to confront Anthy. “What does she mean?”
“The million swords of hate,” murmured Anthy, and her tone (so regular, so everyday) made my eyes snap back open.
“Himemiya,” I said. I hated when she sounded like that...like she used to.
“It’s okay,” she told me, but I had trouble believing her. “Go to sleep, Utena-sama.”
“Don’t call me that,” I muttered, closing my eyes and leaning my head on her shoulder. “Please.”
“Sorry,” she said. “Utena.”
I sighed. If they continued talking I didn’t know it. I had escaped into sleep.

* * *

The next day when Anthy came home from work, I finally got the chance to ask her what had happened to our old classmates.
“Don’t worry,” she said, as we sipped tea on the couch (this had become our evening ritual). “I’m sure we’ll see them again soon.” I couldn’t help noticing that she didn’t sound too happy about it.
“Oh good,” I said. “It was kind of fun to catch up, don’t you think?” I was still tired, and a little nervous about what had happened: a perfect recipe for babble.
“Especially Juri-senpai. Although I don’t know why she has to harp on so much about…stuff. Saionji, eh, I could of given him a miss. And Touga-san is so changeable. Don’t you find that? I mean one moment he acts the gentlemen but he can be such a player.”
“What did happen?” Anthy’s voice was calm but I had gotten used to doing Anthy-interpretation. She was holding her teacup a little too carefully. ChuChu was snuggled up on her lap as though she needed comfort. Her green eyes were just a shade too dark. On top of this, it was unusual for her to want to talk about…the past.
“The swords were there,” I told her, becoming uncomfortable too. “I was tr…trying to remember. And then, I saw them in Juri-senpai’s eyes. I couldn’t believe it. And then…” my voice broke.
“And then,” said Anthy.
“Then I heard them too,” I revealed, shivering as I remembered it. “They spoke to me, Himemiya! In Juri-senpai’s voice!”
“What did they say?”
I looked away. “I don’t remember.”
I put my tea down and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to look into her eyes and see that she knew I was lying.

A long silence hung in the air between us.
“Maybe that’s how they manifest in this world,” she finally suggested. I opened my eyes and reached for a cookie.
“Maybe,” I agreed without thinking. “Huh. That doesn’t seem so bad.”
“It seems worse,” said Anthy.
I gaped at her, mostly because it was still so strange to me for her to openly disagree. And what did she mean?
“Well then, there’s no point in hiding anymore,” she said, rising and cleaning up. “I’ve gotten you a posting at my work.”
My jaw dropped another five degrees.
“You did?”
“Yes.” She actually grinned at me.
My jaw dropped so far it started to ache. This was the first time I had seen this teasing grin. It looked so…nice. But not terribly reassuring.
“So, er, that means you’ll now tell me where you work, right? Where we work.”
“You’ll find out tomorrow,” said Anthy, heading towards the kitchen. I stuck my tongue out at her back. She could be so annoying.

* * *

Anthy worked at a plant nursery, naturally, tending baby plants to adulthood. It was a rather large complex (complete with various glasshouses) attached to a tea shop (located charmingly in the largest glasshouse). I wasn’t sure what to think. I gaped around myself at The Tea Garden as it was oh so creatively called. We were in the tea shop part which consisted of wrought iron tables and chairs artistically placed between exotic-looking plants, artistic statues, and even a birdbath. A cobbled path wound between them, leading to the counter and kitchen area which was attached onto the back.
How do the birds get in to use the birdbath? I wondered.

“Do you like it?” asked Anthy.
“Um, I’m not sure,” I said. “I suppose cash is cash, right?”
“There’s something to be said for atmosphere.”
I stared at Anthy. “Really?” I said doubtfully. “Doesn’t it kind of remind you of, er…”
“There were things I liked about that place,” said Anthy. “I served the roses willingly.”
“Oh,” I said. I didn’t quite know what she meant. Fortunately, the boss was approaching. He was a large man (both tall and fat), who happened to work as the chef.
“Anthy-san,” he cried in loud jovial tones. “This is your friend? Our new waitress?” He grinned down at me. “We need another waitress desperately. I’m sure you’ll do splendidly. Anthy-san is an amazing gardener, after all.”
“Uh thank you,” I muttered weakly, letting Anthy introduce us. Apparently the boss (unusually) liked to be called Boss, which was fine with me. It made his name easy to remember. Before I knew what had happened Anthy had disappeared into one of the nearby glasshouses to tend the plants, leaving me to receive a ten-minute training course courtesy of Boss. Soon enough I was serving customers (badly). Well, I thought later on my break, at least it’s a job, right? And better still, I’m outside. Kind of.

* * *

Surprisingly, I grew to like my job. After I realized I should carry a notebook I didn’t have trouble remembering orders anymore. The other waiters were friendly and made better conversation than ChuChu. Boss was a generous man, and better still spent most of his time furiously preparing desserts in the kitchen. Thus any mistakes I made were mostly unobserved. But generally visitors to The Tea Garden were an easy-going lot, and I found the tension inside me relaxing more and more. Slowly but surely I was regaining my old strength. I began to think that maybe Anthy knew what she was doing. Occasionally I asked Anthy about having our classmates around for dinner, and she would always agree docilely. So far this hadn’t resulted in any concrete invitations.

One afternoon I was walking through the rose glasshouse, looking for Anthy. I was on my lunch-break, which I often liked to spend with her. ChuChu rode on my shoulder (he attended work with us, as the boss thought he provided further “atmosphere”), surveying the plants with a royal air. I wasn’t able to suppress a shudder as I peered around at the many-colored roses. This was my least favorite glasshouse. Unfortunately Anthy spent the majority of her time here: roses were her specialty.
“Utena.” She appeared at my shoulder very suddenly, as was her habit. I almost jumped out of my skin (as was mine). Why did I never see her coming?
“Himemiya! Uh, are you ready for lunch?”
“Almost,” she said, bending over a white rose with her watering can.
“You look tired,” she commented.
“Yeah,” I said, scratching my neck. I absently looked down at my hands. I could only just barely see the red marks from straining at the gate of eternity. They were almost faded away. “It’s been a busy morning. How are the roses going?”
“Very well.” Anthy put down the watering can and slipped her arm into mine. “But I can’t breed some of the colors I’d like to.”
“Must be a reality thing,” I murmured and she nodded. It felt good to be pressed against her as we walked outside into the sun. I preferred being with Anthy when the sky was blue and I was out under it. It felt much safer than being alone. On her part, Anthy always seemed to find some reason to be with me if I had to go outside during work. I wondered if I was that easy to read.
“What do you feel like eating?” she asked me.
“Cake.” I grinned. There was no way she’d give into that idea. But once again (as so often of late) she surprised me. I was beginning to suspect her of being controversial deliberately. She knew I reveled in any anti-rose-bride behavior.
“Alright,” she said calmly, “let’s go to the cake shop.” So we did.

I started my afternoon shift feeling rather stuffed and slightly sick. Maybe cake wasn’t such a good idea, I thought, as I cleared the empty tables. At least not without something more substantial…

“Utena-kun!” The newcomer stood silhouetted in the doorway. The sun was shining behind him at an angle that made it hard for me to see his face.
“Who’s there?” I asked, squinting, but I already knew something was very wrong. The stranger stepped into the shop, letting the door slam shut.
“What’s the matter?” he purred. “Such a relatively short time, and you’ve already forgotten your prince?”
I dropped my tea-tray. It was Akio.

TBC in Chapter 6: Prince & Witch

Thanks Lady Chani for beta reading!

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#6 | Back to Top09-24-2008 08:27:42 AM

Stormcrow
Magical Flying Moron
From: Los Angeles
Registered: 04-24-2007
Posts: 5971
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Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Personally I think just about any literary device can be put to good use. People that complain that a particular device is "bad writing" seem a little snobbish to frankly. As for switching point of view specifically, I'm fond of it myself. I don't feel any need to be bound to one POV, everyone is a character in the story, and I don't see why they shouldn't tell it their way...

More to the point, I like what you've got here so far, especially that tension between Utena and Anthy over the stabbing incident. When I think about it, it seems unlikely to me that Utena would have really understood why that happened, and that would make it awfully hard to deal with. I assume that Utena and Anthy have no prior sexual relationship in this fic? Anyway, I look forward to reading more. emot-keke


"The devil want me as is, but god he want more."
-Truck North
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#7 | Back to Top09-25-2008 01:01:12 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Stormcrow wrote: I don't feel any need to be bound to one POV, everyone is a character in the story, and I don't see why they shouldn't tell it their way...

Cool thanks for your comment on voices. I'm still puzzling it over as I work on chapter 9...is it more compelling to try and subtly direct the reader towards the holes in Utena's own understanding? Or is it better to have some other character reveal her blindspots in their pov? emot-tongue Decisions, decisions.

More to the point, I like what you've got here so far, especially that tension between Utena and Anthy over the stabbing incident. When I think about it, it seems unlikely to me that Utena would have really understood why that happened, and that would make it awfully hard to deal with.

Thanks, Storm, and I like your insight into Utena. She's such an instinctual character, carrying out her idea of "right" very passionately, but probably without much self-analysis or awareness. I find it fascinating when someone's beliefs and actions don't match up. In Utena's case I think the final duel is an example of her beliefs not matching the actions of others (although she stayed consistent even when disproven! Quite astounding really).

In the aftermath...I'm sure her subconscious would struggle with Anthy's actions. Since psychology insists that a person's beliefs will eventually change to match their behavior (even against their conscious will)...what will happen to her? emot-aaa

I assume that Utena and Anthy have no prior sexual relationship in this fic? Anyway, I look forward to reading more. emot-keke

That's right, no prior sexual relationship. Since none was shown or overtly implied on the anime, I'm sticking with the "their love was Utena-snowy-pure" theory. Of course you may note that they are (very gradually) moving into a romantic relationship. Which is another logical liklihood for me post-anime, given the right conditions.

Ooh I'm glad you look forward to reading more. emot-biggrin

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#8 | Back to Top10-01-2008 09:08:53 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Enter Akio? Hit the action key. Repeatedly. school-devil

Chapter 6: Prince & Witch

Akio smiled down at me. He looked the same as ever, tall and knowing, albeit wearing a deep blue shirt instead of his trademark red. I couldn’t even pretend to be friendly. I just gaped at him, clenching my shaking fists at my sides. Around us the few afternoon customers were starting to stare and whisper, as the room filled with tension.
“Well, well,” said Akio as he glanced around the glasshouse, flirtatiously letting his green eyes rest on each and every customer. Behind me I knew that men and women alike would be blushing, and commenting on his looks. When it came to exuding sexual attraction, Akio was the master.

He had mastered me once, as a kind of game. Mixed in with helpless physical attraction, was all my newfound revulsion. I was terribly conscious of his subtle sense of menace. His eyes were filled with wicked schemes. I found myself backing up, until a nearby table hit my thighs.
“This is where you work?” asked Akio, his hungry eyes looking my waitress uniform up and down. “It’s so…Anthy. I suppose that means Anthy works here too. Doesn’t she.” It wasn’t a question. I watched as his eyes darted around looking for her. I suppressed a shiver.
“No,” I lied, finally finding my voice. “She doesn’t actually, and what are you doing here?” My voice shook a little, despite my best efforts to keep it flat and cold. I hoped that Akio would have regard for the avidly watching customers. Surely he couldn’t try anything in a public setting? Surely…

He slowly stalked toward me. One languid step. Another. Another. I was frozen to the spot, caught by his small knowing smile. Now he was standing only a foot away, well within my personal space.
Don’t let him touch me, I thought desperately. Oh please, I couldn’t bear it if he touched me. He was so tall that my head was forced to tilt back to look up at him. I felt blood heat my face under his too-knowing gaze. Oh so slowly, one of his beautiful hands lowered to rest on my shoulder. I felt a scream welling up in my throat.

“Don’t,” said Akio, bending a little so warm breath tickled my ear. “Or…” His eyes flickered to one side and breathlessly I followed his gaze to a nearby table. Two young women were seated there having tea, one with blue hair and one with brown. As though at an unspoken signal, they turned their faces toward mine. I gasped as I recognized Miki’s twin sister and Juri’s ‘friend’. I dimly remembered them from their black rose duels. Kaoru Kozue smiled at me wolfishly. Takatsuki Shiori reached subtly into her blouse to partially reveal what looked like a tiny handgun. I had run out of options.

Akio’s hand clenched on my shoulder as his other hand moved to rest firmly on the small of my back. I was shaking with fear now, completely unable to pretend unaffectedness. Obviously Akio intended this to look like a lover’s tryst, for out of the corner of my eyes I could see the customers turning away from us politely. The chatting level returned to normal.
“Where is she?” asked Akio again, his face dangerously close to mine.
“N…not here,” I managed.
“Tell me!” he commanded running his hand from my shoulder down my back. His strong fingers raked against my skin.
“I know she is here. Just like I know you will tell me.”
His fingers came to rest purposefully right over my scar. The thin cloth over his goal could not stop my strangled cry. I couldn’t bear this…

“Don’t touch her.” Somehow, and as suddenly as always Anthy had appeared beside us. She looked and sounded furious. Had I ever seen her like this? Her eyes were flashing, her cheeks were flushed, her mouth was twisted in rage. Akio seemed taken aback but he quickly recovered, and he didn’t let go of me.

“Anthy.” His voice was rich and warm. “At last we reunite.”
“We do nothing of the sort. Let go of her.”
Akio stared down at his little sister. His mouth twisted in sudden anger, and one hand pressed cruelly on my scar. Deliberately he leaned down even closer to me.
“Utena-kun,” he whispered. “Don’t you remember? You’ll never be her prince. Because you’re a girl.”
A surge of pain lanced through me, both in my heart and beneath his touch. I gasped for breath. I couldn’t bear that memory. My knees buckled. The scar was healed; this should not be happening, could not be happening. I thought I saw a flash of a sword, piercing my very center, but it was gone before I could focus on it. Akio’s powerful hands gripped my shoulders, preventing me from falling at his feet. I was semi-aware of Anthy tensing beside us, and a weird electrical charge building in the air.

“Utena!” she cried, and it seemed like the world exploded.

* * *

I came to my senses in the wreckage of the table, amidst the rubble that had been a nearby statue and the unfortunate birdbath.

“What happened?” I croaked to Anthy, who was lying half on top of me.

“We’ve got to get out of here,” she said, getting up on her knees and trying to draw me up. Dazedly I rose with her, looking around us at the devastation that used to be The Tea Garden. It looked like a bomb had gone off! Around us shell-shocked customers were picking themselves out of the wreckage. I made out the deep blue shirt lying ten feet away, under a broken table.

Was that..? No…

“Utena!” Anthy’s voice was sharp with desperation. “Now! Here, let me help you.” I watched her numbly as she pulled my arm over her shoulder. We began to stumble toward the doorway. The door was hanging open, halfway off its hinges. I was staggering badly, and couldn’t understand what was wrong with me. Looking down at my disobedient feet, I was shocked to see that my shirt was soaked red with blood. It was running from under my shirt onto the waitress skirt I hated, making it stick against my thighs. It was dripping onto my shoes. 
“Come on!” ordered Anthy again, and we had reached the door and were lurching into the carpark.

“Stop!” cried a feminine voice behind us, followed by the crack of a gunshot. “Stop right now!”
   
We had reached Anthy’s car, and she was wrenching open the door and pushing me inside. Moments later she was beside me, shoving her keys into the ignition. Another shot was fired. The back windshield shattered. I swore. Anthy floored the accelerator. I was shoved back hard against my seat, as we pealed out onto the road and away. Anthy was driving like a maniac. I could only brush away the shards of glass on the door handle, and hold on. The wind whipping through the missing back window whirled my hair around my face, so that I could barely see. Anthy was having the same problem.

She kept glancing into the rearview mirror, no doubt looking for pursuit. I managed to turn with some difficulty to see the flash of a horridly familiar red convertible. Was it gaining? I turned back around, panting with exertion. Anthy grimaced beside me.

“Hold something to that wound,” she told me. “Utena, please.”

“What?” I stared at her in confusion. Somehow, driving one handed she groped behind her seat for a cardigan of mine I had left on the floor.

“Here,” she shoved it at me, glancing into the mirror again. “Hold this to your stomach.” I obeyed her, mostly because I didn’t like the way her voice shook. The drive was beginning to seem surreal to me, the road fading in and out ahead of us. My head felt woozy. Another bullet whizzed between us to shatter our front windshield. Anthy cried out and covered her eyes with one slim brown arm. Somehow, miraculously she kept the steering wheel straight with the other. I didn’t even react, blinking as glass rained around my face. Some of it cut me…I was beyond lucky that it missed my eyes.

“Hold on,” warned Anthy, wrenching the car abruptly down a narrow side street. We were in the city center, but I didn’t recognize our surroundings…she wasn’t heading home. A car honked at us as we roared past. We turned hard again, and shot out onto a main road between two trucks. I could hear a buzzing like static in my ears. It was getting hard to concentrate…I watched as my hand gripping the door handle unwrapped itself. I just didn’t have the energy to hold on. My other hand slipped away from my stomach, dropping a sopping red cardigan onto my lap. I stared down at it in morbid fascination. Didn’t it used to be blue? Anthy turned the car sharply again, and my body crunched into the door. I bounced off it as we turned yet again, slamming into Anthy. I felt her arm go around me and grip me tight, holding me in place at her side. It felt good, right. She was saying something, but I didn’t hear it – I only felt the vibration. She pushed me down so my head was resting in her lap, and that was nice too. Her face whirled crazily over my head as she spun determinedly at the steering wheel. I thought that she was beautiful. I thought that just being with her made me happy. I thought that if we died right now, this wasn’t such a bad way to go. I closed my eyes.

TBC in Chapter 7: Feel No Pain

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#9 | Back to Top10-20-2008 10:38:48 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Aww hurt&comfort. Fluff. Sweet sappy stuff that I struggle with but try to write as a realistic portrayal that even people with crappy lives experience moments of happiness. school-devil But still a heck of a lot of angst. It's necessary! I swear. emot-rolleyes

Chapter 7: Feel No Pain

I woke up in a strange bed, in a strange dim room, with a dry mouth and pounding head. My back throbbed fiercely where it pressed against the mattress. My stomach ached too, and my hand moved reflexively to clutch it. I rolled onto my side and peered under the sheet. I was wearing only an unfamiliar pair of pajama bottoms, with bandages swathing my torso.
Hmm, it didn’t hurt before, I thought fuzzily. Grunting with effort, I managed to push myself up against the headboard, where I leaned weakly. I felt hot. The cool air was nice on my bare chest. There was a glass of water on the bedside table, which I drained eagerly. Gradually I realized the bedroom door was slightly ajar, and voices were floating quite clearly through it.

“How did you get rid of him?” I frowned. That sounded like Juri.
“Oh…there was a lucky accident.” I recognized Anthy’s calm voice immediately.
“An accident?” A light male voice, also familiar. Who was that?
“A freak storm,” said Anthy. “Lightning struck a tree that fell right in front of his car.” A pause.
“Lightning,” said Juri, in clear disbelief.
“Yes,” said Anthy.
“That was lucky.”
“Yes, Miki-san,” said Anthy. Another pause.
“What happened to Utena-san?” Juri’s voice was tight. “And don’t spin me some story. You’re never going to get all that blood out of your carseat.”
“Will she be alright?” Miki sounded worried. “Shouldn’t we take her to a hospital or something? That wound looks pretty bad…”
“She’ll be fine.”
“I agree with Miki-kun. She looks like she was impaled. Hell, she was half-dead when you got here! She probably needs a transfusion.”
“She’ll be fine.”
“Uh, Anthy-san…what if she’s not?” Miki sounded very young and scared.
“She’ll be fine,” Anthy’s voice was strained. “We can’t go to a hospital. He’ll be looking there.”
“The Chairman?” asked Juri harshly. “I thought you said his car was crushed.”
“I did. That won’t stop him. Not for long.”
Long silence. When Anthy spoke again she sounded distant.
“He has Kaoru-san and Takatsuki-san with him.” Gasps.
“Kozue,” cried Miki at the same time as Juri murmured, “Shiori.”
“Well,” continued Juri rather dryly, “I can’t say I’m surprised. Or even disappointed.”
“We’ve got to save Kozue!” demanded Miki.
“Why?” asked Juri. Her voice lowered, became kinder. “Miki-kun, I know she’s your twin, but she wouldn’t be with him if she didn’t want to be.”
“That doesn’t matter! I can’t let her do this. And you shouldn’t let Takatsuki-san.”
“Why not? She’s her own person. I’m not involved in her life.”
“But…you love her.”
Silence reigned again. Finally…Juri, expressionlessly:
“Past tense. And I was freed of all that, five years ago. The same goes for you.”
“We can’t save them,” put in Anthy. “It’s too dangerous. Arisugawa-senpai is correct. They’ve chosen to be with him.”
Miki sounded desperate. “Yes, but you chose to be with him too!”

A strangled noise escaped me. Inadvertently I cried out:
“Don’t say that!”
Three voices responded in shock. (“Did you hear that?” “Utena!” “Utena-san…”) The door burst open, and light streamed in. My eyes went automatically to Anthy, searching for signs that she was okay. Her eyes were fixed on mine with mysterious intensity, which usually would have made me blush and look away. Now I only stared back hungrily. To my surprise both Juri and Miki froze in their tracks, staring at me with identical blushes. Anthy reached my side and sat on the bed, demurely reaching out to lift the sheet and cover my breasts. I realized what the problem was and flushed more hotly than my audience. After long moments of embarrassment the other two moved into the room. Miki took the bedside chair. Juri switched on the lamp then sat on the end of the bed. Her face was still red.

“How do you feel?” asked Anthy. Her cool hand stroked my hot cheek. She frowned and felt my forehead.
“Hmm okay, now you’re here.” I smiled up at her.
“Liar,” she accused gently. “You’re burning up.”
“Doesn’t matter,” I murmured. “We made it.”
“You always had a funny way of looking at things,” noted Juri, rolling her eyes. I grinned at her.
“Yeah, you never liked it.”
“No,” said Juri, “I liked it. I didn’t agree with it…but I liked it.” One hand came up unconsciously to play with her locket. I wasn’t sure what she meant but I kicked her teasingly with my foot. She smiled at me, albeit a bit sadly. I looked over at Miki curiously.
“Do you live here, Miki-kun? Um, where is here anyway?”
“Juri-senpai’s apartment,” said Miki. “I was visiting for dinner.”
“Oh.” I thought about that. I looked to Anthy who was now holding my hand. “How did you know how to get here?”
“I gave her the address when I invited you for dinner.” Juri’s voice was heavy with irony. “You don’t know about that, do you?”
“Um…” I glanced up at Anthy uncertainly. Why hadn’t she told me?
“Well, it’s good that you came here,” said Miki nervously. “We want to help. After what you did for us all, Utena-senpai…we need to stick together.”
I nodded, but I didn’t really know what I had done that was so great.

“Is it safe here?” I wondered aloud.
“For now,” said Anthy. Juri and Miki exchanged uneasy looks.
“You look pretty bad,” noted Juri, nodding at me.
“I’m fine,” I said, raising a hand to brush away the sweat forming on my temple. “Just hot. Can we open a window or something?”
“It’s too cold.” Juri rolled her eyes. “You’re sick, you idiot. No doubt from the, I don’t know, gaping sword wound through your chest?!”
I scowled at her.
“You’re crazy. It’s not cold.” Under the sheet I pressed my other hand tentatively against the bandage. It did feel like…well, like that other time had. That is from what I could bear to remember of it, which wasn’t much. But Akio hadn’t stabbed me…had he? The wound throbbed under my touch, and the room swam in front of my eyes. I slid down the headboard a little, and Anthy exclaimed and reached out to guide me back into a lying position on my side. I was unable to suppress a moan.
“Pain-killers,” said Juri briskly. “I’ll be right back.”
“Please get the first-aid kit,” Anthy said to Miki. “I want to change these bandages.”
“Of course.” He rushed out.
“Don’t need pain-killers,” I managed to get out from between clenched teeth.
“You’re such a bad patient.” Anthy started stroking my hair. My hand was resting near her knee and I reached out and touched it for comfort.
“Am not,” I said, but even I noticed my voice was slurring a little.
“Yes, Utena-sama,” intoned Anthy dutifully. I looked sharply at her just in time to see the smug smile flitter over her features, and I sighed. She was actually playing with me. How rare and wonderful. And just a tad annoying.

Her hand was tangled in the hair at the nape of my neck now. Her melancholy eyes watched me as though I might vanish given half a chance. Wasn’t that how I was supposed to feel? When had everything changed?
“Himemiya,” I asked, then forgot what I was saying, then remembered and started again. “Uh, where’s ChuChu? Did we just…leave him there? Is he okay?”
“Let me check,” she closed her eyes and for a moment I wasn’t hot anymore, for the room got very cold and dark. I shivered in the blackness and reached out to Anthy, groping for her arm. I found it but it didn’t help…her skin didn’t feel like skin. My heart started to pound; I levered myself up on my elbow, feeling her hand fall limply from my head. Breathing heavily, I managed to roll out of bed, but lost my balance and landed hard on my hands and knees. I knelt there for a long moment, trying to get the strength to call out for the others. Before I could, the room lightened, and a blessedly familiar hand smoothed my shoulder as Anthy knelt beside me.
“What are you doing?”
“I uh, I uh…” My head whirled. “Where’d you go?” I pushed my head against her nearby chest and closed my eyes in relief. In our awkward position she was only able to half hug me. When she answered she sounded uncertain.
“I was looking for ChuChu. Come back to bed.” She helped me back beneath the sheets.
I was shivering. “Is he okay?”
“Yes. I told him where we are and I’m going to…get him soon.” Somehow in my feverish state this strange Anthy-saying made perfect sense. With her warmth beside me the shaking stopped.
“Oh. Good. I miss him.”
“He misses you. And he’s hungry.” She giggled.
“Poor ChuChu. He’s lucky he’s got you for a friend.”
“I don’t spoil him like you do.”
“No, you spoil him worse,” I griped.
“That would not be possible.”
“That’s weird, because that’s what happens.”
“Go to sleep, silly.”
“Na…you…go to sleep.”
“You’re sleepy. I can tell.”
“Yeah, yeah. I guess I am. But I don’t…spoil him…like you…do…cos…”
“Goodnight, Utena.”

TBC in Chapter 8: The Sword of Logos

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#10 | Back to Top11-01-2008 07:04:32 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: More hurt and comfort. Yes! And finally, a bit of resolution. Our heroines actually talk. *gasp*

Chapter 8: The Sword of Logos
I awoke in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, with pain burning a laser-hole through my abdomen. It was unbearable. Groaning, I curled up in a ball. The pain filled up all my awareness. Hazily I felt Anthy curve around my back and heard her sleepy voice call my name. After I don’t know how long, I became aware that my head was somehow now in her lap, and she was half-forcing me to drink down some cloudy liquid. After another incalculable passage of time, I came back to myself as the pain faded to manageable levels. I was still in Anthy’s lap with her hands stroking slowly through my long hair. I sighed and snuggled closer.

“Better?” she asked softly.
“Yeah.” I sighed again. I felt safe, a feeling I had come to associate with her.
“Can you sit up? I didn’t want to disturb your rest by re-bandaging.”
“Yeah sure.” It was actually quite the effort, but I managed it with her help, and some huffing and puffing on my part. During the effort I realized my breasts were still bare, and I felt my cheeks warm. It wasn’t that Anthy hadn’t seen me naked before, for various reasons. It was more that it felt good to have her see me this way, although that was stupid because I was sick after all, and there was no way she would even be looking because…my feverish thoughts didn’t make sense, even to me.
“Lean forward,” she said, so I did, resting my head against her shoulder for support. Very carefully her hands reached around me and started unwrapping the bandage.
“Does it hurt?” she asked for the second time that night.
“It’s alright,” I said.  But I was unable to suppress a whimper when her hands brushed my back. They stilled immediately. I waited for a wave of pain and nausea to pass, breathing into her neck. She waited with me.
“Ready?” she asked. I clenched the sheets in my fists and nodded slightly against her. Very slowly she unwrapped the bandage, waiting several more times for me to manage the resulting pain. My fists were clenched so tightly they were starting to ache.

Finally the bandage was off, and Anthy’s gentle fingers moved over my heated skin, checking the area around the puncture.
“Is it bleeding?” I managed to choke out, my voice muffled by her neck. I spit out a bit of her hair. I trembled, half afraid she’d say yes.
“No, it’s stopped.” Her voice was anxious. She pulled back, holding me in place by my shoulders as she studied my stomach.
“How is it?” I asked, sneaking a gaze downward. I saw a barely healed scab, positioned exactly where the scar had been. The skin around it was inflamed. I heard someone whimpering, a pitiful weak sound. With some shock I realized it was me, and that I couldn’t stop. Anthy’s hands tightened on my shoulders.
“Utena!” she pleaded. “It’s alright. You’re alright. You’re here now, with me. Not there. Not there. Never again.” The whimpering subsided, and then to my horror I began to cry. At this Anthy pulled me forward into her embrace, and I sobbed into her soft hair. I wept for a long time. The volatile combination of pain, fear, past and fever overtook me, and I barely knew where I was anymore. Anthy was stroking my upper back, her hands blessedly cool on my bare skin. When I had calmed somewhat, she wrapped new bandages. I watched her hands, as I alternated between sniffling, and concentrating on breathing past the pain.

My half-formed thoughts were chaotic. I didn’t recognize myself. Where was my strength, my spine? What was wrong with me? I had always comforted Anthy, hadn’t I? Yet now she was always the one to comfort me.  It felt so wrong. I hated feeling weak, and utterly like a girl. But I couldn’t hate Anthy’s closeness, or her cool hands brushing my body. We were together somehow, and that was all that really mattered. Wasn’t it? I silently watched her finish, put away the kit, and guide me back beneath the covers.

Lying on our sides face to face, with one of her hands resting lightly on my hip, I began to feel better.
“Sleep,” she told me. “I’ll stay with you.” It was hard to answer honestly but I made the effort.
“It hurts too much. But stay with me anyway.” She smiled a little.
“You’ve got a fever,” she noted.
“Yeah,” I said. “I don’t know why I’m always the sick one lately. When are you gonna need taking care of?” Her hand slid up over my side, and then moved to my face, cupping my cheek.
“You always do that,” she said. I finally smiled back.
We lay in silence for awhile. She stroked my hair some more. It helped me move past the lingering pain.
“Hey Himemiya,” I said eventually. “What did he do to me? How did this…” My voice trailed off, but she seemed to know what I meant.
“I don’t know,” she said carefully, “but I think he…stabbed you.”
“With a sword?” I asked.
“With words.”
We were silent again.
“It must be how the swords work…in this world,” Anthy mused, her eyes very bleak. “Words of hate, working like invisible swords.” Her hand stilled. “My words. He used my words. He used the sword I gave him.” I stared at her. There was no point in denying it. Although I had denied it up to now, those words still hung between us. It cost me a lot not to change the subject.

“H…Himemiya,” I started hesitantly, “I know you didn’t mean it.”
“Do you?” she looked at a point somewhere over my shoulder. “Sometimes it doesn’t seem like that.” My breath hitched. I felt like crying again.
“I’m sorry,” I said helplessly. “I couldn’t be your prince.” Her eyes snapped back to mine with something like shock.
“What does that mean?”
“Nothing,” I mumbled. My head was aching now, pounding in rhythm to my heart. I was so hot. With her eyes on me, it was too hot for comfort. “I don’t know what I mean.”
“You are a prince.” Her hand was suddenly hard where she gripped my chin and forced me to look at her. “Utena, you are my prince. We wouldn’t be here if that hadn’t been true all along. I’m shocked, you’re shocked, everybody’s shocked. But we’re here. What will it take to get that through your thick skull?!”
I stared at her incredulously. I didn’t know how to respond. Aggression was so rare for Anthy, and name-calling was rarer still.
Finally I muttered:
“Thick skull? Uh, doesn’t that seem a bit harsh?”
“It seems appropriate,” she snapped back. I realized with a jolt that she’d lost her temper. It was a first. I’d certainly never been on the receiving end. The revelation sent me from miserable to ecstatic in a few crazy heartbeats.

“Okay, okay, you win,” I told her, smiling conciliatorily. “I’m thick, and you’re right.” She narrowed her eyes suspiciously.
“I know I’m right.” We stared intensely at each other and then…
She flashed a sudden grin, in that new and especially shocking fashion of hers.
“I suppose ‘thick’ is a little harsh. Since you realize I’m right.”
I grinned back. I reached out to entwine my fingers with hers.
“I think we just had our first real fight,” I murmured.
Anthy blushed. It was cute.
“Oh we’ve argued before,” she murmured back. “Just not so…overtly.”
“I like it,” I told her boldly.
She just sighed affectionately.
“You would.”
“Have we really argued before? Really?”
“Oh yes.” Her eyes twinkled as she assumed a demure expression. “I won then too.”
“Hmph.”

Another long while passed of lying in the dark, trying not to dwell on the constant aching. Anthy was humming something under her breath as she played with my hair. It was wildly pretty. Like her. I thought to ask:
“Is this…what it was like…for you?”
Her hand stilled again, before slowly starting to smooth back my bangs.
“I don’t know,” she said, “what is it like for you?”
I fiddled with her nightgown where the skirt draped over her thigh.
“Um, like fire I guess. That burns me and won’t stop burning.”
“Yes,” she said her voice a little distant, “and eventually it burns so much that your body shuts down to it. You become numb.”
I felt my breath catch in my throat. Silence stretched between us. Slowly I said:
“But you had the million swords to deal with. I only have one.”
“For now,” she reminded me gently. “We don’t know what happened to the swords.” A slight pause. “Do we?” I felt myself tense. Given our position, it was impossible for her not to have felt it too.
“Himemiya,” I said, and my voice broke disturbingly on her name. “I…I can’t bear to think about…that. Not yet.”
“Okay.” Her voice was so gentle just then. “Okay.” More silence.
“I’m sorry,” I said, clutching at her skirt, “so sorry. That I didn’t see. That I didn’t pay attention to your pain. I was so selfish…”
Her fingers moved to graze my lips, stopping me.
“You saw what I wanted you to see,” she told me. “And you saw a lot more than any other, without even knowing it.” Her voice was thoughtful. “You sometimes saw more than me.”
“I did?” my voice was wondering. My lips tingled where they brushed against her fingers. I could hear the smile in her voice as she answered.
“Yes, Utena. You still do.”
“But I was still selfish,” I told her.
“So was I.”
I managed a smile against her teasing fingers.
“So we’re both bad?”
“Only if we’re both good.”
I laughed.
“Okay, okay, you win.”
“Like always,” she said with deliberate calm.
“Yeah, whatever.”

TBC in Chapter 9: The Prince Unmasked

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#11 | Back to Top11-29-2008 01:36:01 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Lotsa conversation. Important revelations.

Chapter 9: The Prince Unmasked

Suffice to say, intermittent sleep, and a whole lot of pain made for a crabby Utena. After a few days of nursing by Anthy my fever abated, and then a week drifted by in which life seemed to slow down to a crawl. This was probably a side-effect of the pain medication I was practically overdosing on. I had no idea how Anthy had borne the pain. How could she possibly have endured a million swords instead of a measly one?

I knew that the others were planning something. As I alternated between the bed and the couch they would go about their business, with many whispered debates over what we should do next. I didn’t catch much, but a strained sense of purpose hovered in the air. It made me edgy, much like the bright blue sky that persisted outside Juri’s wall-sized windows. Miki seemed to be a permanent houseguest…after a couple of days I divined that he’d actually moved in. I wondered just how big Juri’s fancy complex was. It sure was nice, like living in a five star hotel, but I missed Anthy’s unit with the quirky decorating that reminded me of her even when she wasn’t there.

On this particular morning (I had lost track of which day it was) Juri and Miki were eating breakfast at the low table they’d drawn up next to my couch. I didn’t know where Anthy was. Having arrived under mysterious circumstances the previous day, ChuChu was now perched on the table, eating with furious determination. I gazed at his wiggling tail as it drew pretty patterns in the air. It was calming.

“Eat something, Utena-kun,” ordered Juri, looking pointedly at my bowl of ramen. Why were we eating this for breakfast anyway? Perhaps Anthy had prepared it: she made strange dishes at equally strange times. Half-heartedly I fiddled with my chopsticks. I knew from past experience that Juri would force feed me if necessary. It was a good incentive to eat, but I still didn’t have much appetite. Not to mention if Anthy had made this, I didn’t think I was in for a treat…

“So tomorrow then,” said Miki, between sips of tea. “Has everybody confirmed for our big meeting?”

Juri ticked names off on long fingers. “Let’s see. Touga-san, Saionji, Nanami-kun, Tsuwabuki-kun, Shinohara-kun, and even Sonoda-kun. And of course us, and Himemiya-san.” She said Anthy’s name like it tasted bad.

“Why don’t you like her?” I asked curiously.

Two pairs of semi-shocked eyes met mine. Juri didn’t dissemble.

“Because I remember her manipulating me and everyone around me constantly. Because she made you blind to the stupidity you were committing, and because I can’t bring myself to trust her.”

“Oh.” I fiddled with my chopsticks some more. There was an embarrassed silence. Chuchu’s tail was frozen in mid-wiggle. I forced myself look up into Juri’s straightforward gaze.

“But you’re wrong, y’know. You just don’t understand her. What she’s gone through.”

She simply arched a fine brow at me. “So you say. Look, Utena…”

My eyes widened at the missing honorific, and at the sight of her leaning over the table to take my hand, chopsticks and all.

“We’ll have to agree to disagree. You can’t change my mind about her. But you’ve changed my mind about your bad habit of playing prince.” She cleared her throat, shifting uncomfortably. “You deserved to be the victor of the duels. I…admire your nobility.”

I looked at her hand and blushed like an idiot. To my chagrin Miki chimed in.

“Yes! I think uh, that all the duelists came to see your nobility, Utena-san. I can’t tell you how happy I was when I saw you holding onto your shining thing no matter what.” His big blue eyes were very earnest.

I turned redder. “Stop it,” I muttered. “You two are being silly.”

“And you’re an idiot who’s far too loyal for her own good, and who can’t even eat breakfast properly.” Juri glared at me, but I was starting to see the affection hidden just beneath the frost. It was like you had always thought the surface you skated over was a lake of ice, but the greater reality was the current swirling underneath. The thought surprised me. How did I know that? After all, I was the first to admit I’d never been particularly deep.

“So eat,” Juri said, releasing my hand. Meekly I lifted my chopsticks to my mouth. Fondness notwithstanding, this was why they were planning on helping Anthy and I? They felt like they…owed me something?

“I wonder why the chairman hasn’t come yet,” mused Miki, politely changing the subject. “He must know where we are, right? He seems to know everything.” He shivered.

“Yes, it’s strange.” Juri looked thoughtful. “Maybe he was hurt in that so-called accident Himemiya-san claims happened. Can he be hurt?” They looked to me expectantly. I simply shrugged. How would I know? Besides Akio was too disturbing to even think about. Juri frowned and continued her line of thought.

“Well maybe he only knows everything about Ohtori. Maybe he’s as limited here...as us.” She threw up her hands in irritation. “We don’t really know! We need more information.”

“We should ask Anthy-san,” suggested Miki. Juri glared at him.

“A lot of good that would do. Unless…” she arched an eyebrow at me. “Maybe you should ask her.”

“Me?” I choked on the first bite I’d managed to take. “Why me?”

“Because you’re the only person she’s likely to answer, that’s why. Obviously. I can just imagine the utter nonsense she’d come up with if I asked her.” She rolled her eyes. Miki grinned then flushed when I glowered at him.

“It’s a good idea, Utena-san,” he said hastily. “We can’t hope to go up against the chairman without all the help we can get. We can’t proceed on assumptions, we need the facts.” He fiddled with the notebook on his lap. “We’ve got to approach this logically. We have to win.”

“Win what?” I snapped, almost immediately feeling guilty. Rubbing the back of my neck I started again. “I mean…why are we trying to fight Akio-san?” My voice tripped a bit on his name and I saw Juri blink. “We should be running!” I added. “You’ve been wonderful to help us, to help me, but why are we planning to attack? What are we hoping to do? You should go on with your lives, and I’ll take Himemiya and…”

“Stop,” Juri held up her hand in a regal gesture. “What are you talking about? You’re a prince. Remember? A prince, Utena.”

“Yes,” agreed Miki with shining eyes.

I blinked. “Well,” I said, “hmm.” I felt a bit like Juri had slapped me. “Er that was then…and Himemiya’s saved now…I think…and there’s no need to be going overboard and…”

“So what you’re saying is that you were a prince only for Himemiya-san?” Juri sounded disbelieving. Her cool eyes pierced me. “The prince saves the princess, is that it? It was all about the damn rose bride?”

“Not the rose bride,” I corrected firmly, as my temper began to rise. “She’s Himemiya Anthy. Her own person.”

“Maybe now. Maybe.” Juri’s voice was rising too. “But back then she was the rose bride. So you saved her. So what? You did more than that. You were so stubborn about your idiotic notions of the right thing to do – you dragged others up out of self pity. Even me.” She laughed bitterly.

“Look Utena, you changed Ohtori, you made it possible for all of us to leave. We all began to wake up and realize the duels were an evil game we didn’t have to play. We started to grow, to change. You inspired us to reach past pain for something eternal. You did that. You.”

I blinked at her. Her interpretation of events was pretty shocking to me.

“Yes,” agreed Miki again. “You changed everything, broke the shell and revolutionized the world! You did it for us too.” His voice was almost pleading. “Right, Utena-san? Right? You’re the reason we woke up, aren’t you? You must be.”

Juri’s eyes drilled into me, and her fists were clenched and shaking at her sides.
“Why, Utena? Why did you do it? For her? Only for her?!”

I felt my anger die as suddenly as it had been born. Flushing I pressed myself back against the couch wanting to hide. But even now I couldn’t lie…it wouldn’t be right.

“Yes,” I admitted quietly. “I did it for Himemiya.”

They stared at me, stunned disbelief leeching the animation from their faces.

“She needed me,” I pleaded with them. “And I made a promise such a long time ago, a promise I didn’t even remember making, and being a prince was about that promise, even though I didn’t always know that.” My words were tripping over each other in my confusion and the shock on their faces wasn’t going away.

I stumbled on. “Look, Himemiya needed someone to save her from that awful place, and only a prince could do it. Don’t you see, she needed it so much.” I buried my face in my hands. Their eyes were so accusing.

“That’s not entirely true.” Shockingly it was Anthy who broke the silence, and I peeked between my fingers to see she had entered in her sudden fashion. The doorway framed her figure in a way disturbingly reminiscent of the time she’d left me to go to Touga. Her face was in shadow.

“How long have you been there?” demanded Juri in cold fury.

“Long enough.” Anthy stepped into the light. Her eyes flickered to mine but I couldn’t tell what she was thinking.

“What do you mean?” Miki asked Anthy. He was still staring at me like he was a puppy and I had kicked him.

“Did you know you needed saving?” Anthy folded her hands in front of her. She smiled at us benignly. Juri crossed her arms defensively. Miki looked surprised.

“No,” he admitted slowly. “I guess we didn’t.” He looked back toward me with dawning relief. “Neither did you.”

“We didn’t know a damn thing. We still don’t.” Juri abruptly rose and left the room, her shoulders very stiff. I stared after her, scratching my neck. This wasn’t good. This wasn’t good at all. Should I go after her? Would she hit me if I did?

“Tea?” asked Anthy, without really asking at all. She disappeared into the kitchen, an anxious ChuChu scampering after her. Miki smiled tentatively at me. I managed a sickly smile back. We sat in awkward silence, Miki tapping his pen on his knee.

“I er, should go and do that stuff I have to do.” He got up.

“You don’t have to go,” I said feeling dismayed. Somehow I’d really messed breakfast up.

“It’s a good chance,” Miki explained, even as he retreated. “A perfect time for you to ask Anthy-san about the chairman.” I opened my mouth to disagree but the door was already clicking shut behind him. Wondering if he’d gone to look for Juri, I settled for putting down my mostly full bowl in relief. It just didn’t taste like ramen. And who could eat with severed expectations filling the room like swords embedded in crumbling stone.

* * *

Anthy stood patiently beside the couch while I shuffled over to make room for her to sit, with me leaning up against her chest. Carefully she raised a cup of tea to my lips and let me sip.

“It’s good,” I said, sighing as I relaxed back against her gratefully. “I’m glad you’re back.” I felt her warm breath stir my hair. ChuChu leapt up onto my lap and I started playing with him.

“I’m glad I came in when I did,” Anthy admitted softly.

“Me too.” My voice was small. She offered me another sip of tea. Afterward I tentatively framed the question burning on my lips.

“How much did you hear?” ChuChu pulled away from me to leap to Anthy’s shoulder. She said nothing for a good thirty seconds. I wished that I could see her face. With some difficulty I made myself wait for an answer. I was slowly learning it was useless to ever try and force Anthy’s hand.

“Nothing that I didn’t already know,” she finally said. I felt something lodge in my throat. My eyes burned. Desperately I held tears back.

“So…you’re not disappointed? That I, uh, that I…”

“Did it for me?” One slim arm wrapped itself under my breasts to hold me tightly. “I’m glad.” Her voice was filled with emotion, which was so alien to what I was used to from her and so wondrous. I clung to her arm.
“So glad,” she repeated softly.

A great happiness filled my heart. We sat in cozy silence for an indeterminable period of time. I concentrated on the warmth of her body and the faint chittering as ChuChu began to play with my hair from his perch. I didn’t want to break our hard-won peace with Miki’s question. That could wait. The world could wait for us, now that we’d finally found each other in this new world of possibilities.

TBC in Chapter 10: The Meeting

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#12 | Back to Top12-19-2008 09:14:34 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Aw how sweet. The duelists are back together at last. And they're...feeling Utena up and sniping at each other. school-devil Just like old times...

Chapter 10: The Meeting

The big meeting was in full swing. I was seated on the overly crowded couch squashed between Touga and Wakaba, since they had both rushed to sit beside me. It was wonderful to see Wakaba again even if she was clutching my right hand tight enough to bruise it, and bouncing excitedly in place. It was rather uncomfortable being next to Touga, who kept edging ever closer. It made me nervous…and strangely hot.

My general edginess of the past week was multiplied by a factor of ten. I was focused on the stars outside the lounge’s massive windows (although so many less than I could remember there being at Ohtori). For some reason the expansive glittering sky made me cringe. Every time I glanced toward the window I found myself looking away again. But I couldn’t help my eyes drifting back, searching for something that simply wasn’t there. A planet? A dueling arena? A sharp metallic rain, hurtling down forever? I shivered.

“Are you cold, Utena darling?” Wakaba clutched my poor hand even harder. “You’re far too skinny. And you don’t look well. Have you lost weight? You always used to eat so much; it took me forever to pack lunches big enough to satisfy you!” I flamed red and muttered something incoherent.

“Let me warm you up,” purred Touga, smoothly sliding his arm around my shoulders.

“I’m not cold,” I snapped, leaning away, directly into Wakaba’s ready embrace.

“I’ll warm you up!” insisted my friend, throwing her arms around me. She might be five years older now, and not quite as short but it was good to see some things didn’t change. Even if it was kinda restricting to lose the use of your arms…

“But you’re so small,” Touga pointed out to her, “surely I have more body heat to offer.” I flushed.

“I’m not cold,” I grumbled as Wakaba squeezed tighter, “and ow, that sorta hurts. Would you lay off?” One of her arms was now dangerously close to my stab wound. I bit my lip and tried unsuccessfully to pull away. Wakaba must have used the past five years to work out…she was seriously strong.

There was snickering from someone. I was certain that if I dared to look up several pairs of eyes would be ogling the couch’s occupants. How embarrassing. Drat, somehow my sweater had managed to creep up and Wakaba’s hand was brushing over my bandages.

“Oh no! You’re hurt!” she accused, immediately lifting my sweater even more to get a better look. Yanking it back down I glared at her, holding her hands away.

“It’s nothing,” I said. “Can you two give me some space for heaven’s sake?”

“It doesn’t look like nothing,” said Touga, his eyes more steely than usual. Was that his hand brushing my side? I pushed it away without looking.

“That’s a lot of bandage,” agreed Wakaba. “What happened?” Her hand reached for mine again.

“Maybe she doesn’t want to say what happened,” put in Touga in his most snotty voice. “Maybe you should give the lady some space.”

“Maybe you should sit somewhere else, and then there’d be plenty of space,” retorted Wakaba. With a sigh I flopped back and closed my eyes, tuning out their bickering. This was normal at least - they’d never liked each other. Five years apparently hadn’t changed that. With another sigh I opened my eyes again to look around the room.

Miki was chairing the meeting from one of the two armchairs, and Juri was seated in the other with folded arms and a steely gaze. She hadn’t spoken to me since the ill-fated breakfast of the previous morning. I tried to catch her icy eyes, but they were fixed somewhere just over my head.

On the floor around the low table knelt Anthy, Keiko, and Nanami with an attendant Tsuwabuki. Saionji had dragged out a hardbacked chair from the kitchen and sat glaring at the floor. The atmosphere was buzzing with excited tension.

“Ahem,” said Miki, waiting for my couch-mates to subside. “Back to the topic at hand.” Making sure to meet everyone’s eyes one by one, he summed up his earlier speech.
“As I was saying, that is why we’ve called you all together. Anthy-san has found Utena-san but the Chairman has found her too. We all remember that it was actually he who was behind the madness of the duels, that hurt us all so much.” His lip trembled for a moment, and I knew that he was thinking of his twin. Straightening his shoulders he pushed bravely on.
“It’s because of the er, shining example of Utena-san that we all have managed to graduate in these past five years. So we have to help her now.”

“Uh, shouldn’t our first priority be our own safety?” Keiko looked nervous to be speaking up, but determined nonetheless. “The assistant chairman…he’s very dangerous. Who knows what he’s capable of? What he wants to do to all of us?”

“Really, Sonoda-kun.” Touga sounded amused. “I’m sure the chairman has better things to do with his time.” His thigh shifted closer to mine. I shifted closer to the bouncing Wakaba.

“That’s right!” snapped Nanami, glaring at her ex-minion. “Why would he have any interest in an insect like you?”

“Yeah!” agreed Tsuwabuki. He might be older, but he still seemed to be Nanami’s yes-man. I thought that was somehow sad. Hadn’t he wanted to grow up? Growing up meant changing old habits, bad habits…a metamorphosis that gave you wings and demanded you fly somewhere.

Keiko flushed and looked down. I could see her hands shaking with anger as they wrapped around her teacup. It made me feel worried to see things like that. I was sure I never used to notice the details. What did it mean that I noticed everything now? Reflexively I glanced over toward Anthy, to find her already watching me. She smiled gently and I tried a tentative smile back.

“That’s enough.” Juri’s voice was cold. “We’re not here to squabble like children. We’re adults now. Adults in the real world.”

“And isn’t it such a great place?” Saionji dripped sarcasm, surprising me with his bitterness. I saw in the others’ faces that they were startled too. He ranted on.
“I’m sure we’re all very thankful to Tenjou as the magical prince who was victorious in the last duel. Pity that the last duel remains some great mystery that nobody’s allowed to talk about in any detail.”

“That’s true,” said Nanami, turning her head to glare up at me. “We spent years looking for you, and when you finally pop up nobody gets to know where you’ve been! It’s ridiculous. Just like everything about you always was.”

I tensed. It was shocking to hear even Nanami admit she’d been searching for me. My last memory of her involved her stalking off the games field in a huff after she finished insulting me. Yet she had looked for me…

“I’d like to know too,” admitted Wakaba in a small voice. She’d stopped bouncing. “Can’t you tell us, Utena?” Her eyes went all huge and beseeching. I felt a stab of guilt. Shifting in place, I tried to avoid the question.

“I don’t really remember it all that well…”

“Really?” Juri’s strong voice cut through the room toward me. “Is that really true?” Oh so now she decided to talk to me. I shrugged, feeling myself grow red.
“If that’s true,” continued Juri, “then why do you get so upset every time we ask you?”

“Touché,” purred Touga. I felt myself begin to grow angry.

“It’s not important,” I snapped. “It’s not relevant.”

“That’s the stupidest thing you’ve ever said,” bit out Saionji. “Which is saying something. Whatever happens, wherever you’ve been, it changes everything. It changes what we do now.”

“Or don’t do,” added Keiko nervously.

“Tell us!” insisted Nanami, ignoring Keiko, “tell us now!”

“Tell us!” echoed Tsuwabuki, in a most annoying fashion.

“Please, Utena.” Wakaba squeezed my hand.

“It’s time you tell us,” agreed Touga, taking my other hand smoothly. I snapped.

“Stop it!” I pulled away from them both, leaping to my feet and rounding on them. “I can’t tell you, alright?! I can’t stand to think about it!”

“Why?!” Juri leapt to her feet too. “Tell us why!”

Wildly I looked to Anthy for help. But she just sat there silently, avoiding my eyes. With a shock I realized that she wouldn’t help me now…perhaps she wanted to know the answer too badly? Or did she have another motive? Feeling confused and defeated, I lowered my head.

“Stop it,” I repeated in a strained voice. My hands were clenched and shaking at my sides. Everyone except Anthy stared at me with varying expressions of determination, curiosity and pity. Their eyes burned me. I couldn’t look.

“Utena.” Juri’s voice was unexpectedly quiet as she took my arm. Somehow she’d crossed the room to stand in front of me. “Utena, you must tell us. It’s the only way we can win. And…maybe it will help.”

“It can’t help,” I said in low despairing tones. “I don’t think anything can help.” Her hand on my arm bothered me, but I didn’t have the energy to shrug it off. The anger had been an instant flame that burned me out and left me wanting. Juri gently tilted my chin up, forcing me to look at her. Her intense eyes were surprisingly kind.

“You don’t know that. Besides, you’ve always been the champion of the truth. You always spoke it even when it hurt those you spoke to, or hurt yourself. You hate lies, remember?” Her other hand moved to my shoulder. “So be true to yourself. Tell us the truth now, all that you remember of it.”

The room was silent and staring. To my horror I felt tears slide down my cheeks. I was Tenjou Utena, the girl who wanted to be a prince with strength and nobility as my sword and shield. I did not cry, especially in front of a crowd of my old schoolmates. Uncharacteristically I longed to flee. I had never run from anyone or anything in my princely career, but I had to run now. Tensing under Juri’s light touch, I prepared to pull away and race for the door. Juri’s eyes narrowed as she watched me, the same way they had during our duels.

“No!” Correctly guessing my intention she grabbed my upper arms. She actually shook me hard, just like she had so long ago. “You don’t get to run! You don’t get to run away from all the pain we’ve had to go through, wondering what happened to you. Straighten up, and tell us what you know!” I slumped in her hold and she angrily shoved me away, back down onto the couch between Wakaba and Touga. Looming over me, she crossed her arms.

“God, what’s wrong with you?! You’ve lost all your spine!”

No-one said a word. I choked on a sob as the first admission tore its way out of me.
“Akio-san was there.” Silence met this. Wasn’t anybody surprised? I stumbled on.

“Akio was my…prince, the one who drew me out of my coffin when I was a little girl. Y’know, when my parents died.” Saionji made a strange noise in the back of his throat.

“He looked so handsome in his white suit,” I remembered, as a strange longing rose in my heart. “I was happy to see him, but it was…bad too.” I stared down at my fretful hands twisting in my lap. “I felt like something was wrong.”

“Of course it was.” Nanami was scornful. “I tried to tell you!”

“Did you?” I looked up, and whatever she saw in my eyes made her own rebound away. “Did any of you?” I asked. So many guilty faces now, and nobody meeting my eyes but Anthy alone. She gazed up at me with eyes brimming with tears. She was biting her lip. Dragging my eyes from hers, I struggled miserably on.

“He was Ends of the World all along.” My voice was bitter. “I never even guessed it until then. I was such an idiot.” My hands and my heart clenched painfully. “Himemiya vanished and when I looked for her she was lying on the stairs, looking like she was broken.” My voice cracked. “I tried to ask Akio-san about it but he called me his pr…princess. He said we could live together in the castle in the sky, happily ever after.”

“Really?” Touga’s voice was faintly suspicious. “That’s what he said?”

I went on as though he hadn’t spoken. If I stopped now I’d never be able to start again. “H..he pulled the sword out of my chest…”

Gasps all around.

“And I turned into a princess. Suddenly I was dressed just like Himemiya, but in a pink bridal gown. He wanted to make me forget I was a prince.” I looked at Anthy and suddenly forgot where I was, as I found answering anguish in her eyes.
“I kept looking for you, but you wouldn’t look at me. You were sitting on that awful couch like you were d…dead. Akio-san said I should forget you, that I wasn’t a pr…prince, since I’d even betrayed Kanae-san to be with him.”

I’d never admitted that betrayal to myself before. Feeling sick I flushed with shame.

A strangled exclamation, I couldn’t tell from who. I still couldn’t tear my eyes away from Anthy’s. We were gazing at each other like we were drowning. My voice became more and more husky.

“Then you were lying there in his l…lap, and he was stroking your hair, and your eyes were…oh God, so empty. I looked for you but you wouldn’t look up at me. You weren’t even really there!” Anthy’s hands flew to her cheeks and unlike then, she was looking at me now. Peering right into me, into what was left of my heart.

My voice was hoarse. “He bent over you, and all these…s…swords just exploded out of you!” My voice shook with the horror of the moment. “He said it was because you were a w…witch, that it was your punishment which you deserved. He said that you, that you, he said y…you liked it.”

“She did,” purred that deep familiar voice. With a strangled cry I finally tore my eyes from Anthy’s. I couldn’t believe it. Akio stood framed in the doorway, looming over us all with a smug smile. Like at the teahouse, it was completely unexpected. Utter chaos erupted.

TBC in Chapter 11: Weapons

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#13 | Back to Top12-20-2008 02:04:06 AM

Katzenklavier
Wondrous Sexual Eggplant.
From: Back of your thoughts.
Registered: 09-13-2008
Posts: 1120

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Now that is a cool ending, sharn-barn. I'm on the edge of my seat here to find out what happens. I've been following this fic, and I like the suspense in this cliffhanger. You've done Anthy/Akio before very well, so it'll be interesting how you characterize post-Utena characters. You could develop the supporting characters a bit more. But it's going smoothly for an action-driven plotline, and I like the dynamic between Anthy and Utena especially. The first chapter was so sweet! I also admire the length...there's no way I could ever manage that length of continuity. Good job and keep writing, please!


We must go forward, not backward. Upward, not forward. And always twirling, twirling, twirling towards freedom.

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#14 | Back to Top12-21-2008 04:30:57 AM

Itsuke
Pathtracer
Registered: 12-08-2008
Posts: 341

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

This story is like a drug, it keeps you wanting more.

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#15 | Back to Top12-23-2008 06:45:14 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

OMG someone actually replied in this thread. What a shock. school-devil Yes! I have readers! etc-wankgirl Excuse me...I just have to go and have a private party...

Okay back now. Ahem.

JelliKatz wrote: Now that is a cool ending, sharn-barn. I'm on the edge of my seat here to find out what happens. I've been following this fic, and I like the suspense in this cliffhanger.

I had no idea you were reading this so I'm ripped. Uh that means happy. You might be interested to know that this cliffhanger originally belonged halfway through the next chapter (since I thought it was more unexpectedly shocking to whack it there). But in the end Akio was too pushy. And I gave him his way (just like I always do emot-redface).

You've done Anthy/Akio before very well, so it'll be interesting how you characterize post-Utena characters. You could develop the supporting characters a bit more.

Thanks. I agree, and some of the supporting cast have received development in later chapters (it's a secret as to who), but not all, and nowhere near the kind of development Utena and Anthy are each receiving. Since it's U/A that's the breaks, but I do feel a little sad, because each of the characters would have a lot to say in this fic, and there's quite a bit of growth in both directions. Alas we will only see what Utena perceives.

But it's going smoothly for an action-driven plotline, and I like the dynamic between Anthy and Utena especially. The first chapter was so sweet!

Smooth is very good. emot-biggrin The dynamic is my crack to work with.

I also admire the length...there's no way I could ever manage that length of continuity. Good job and keep writing, please!

Thanks, it's my longest fic to date and I'm finding I admire novellists more all the time. Such as authors like Agatha Christie whose books flow like er wine. It's damn hard. I'm seeing my own writing flaws become so much more obvious because of length. And of course that becomes disheartening - you want to re-edit previous chapters (I don't let myself), or chuck it all (I don't let myself), or do it from the beginning in a different way (I don't let myself). I maintain complete pre-creative control and zero post-creative rights.

Thus I also admire other fanfic authors who write longer fics, and those whom I know write them often. HOW do they do eet?!

(Tangent: On that note I recommend to all authors...force yourself to write a longer fic than your norm. It's such a challenge...such an aid for improvement.)

As for continuity I'm finding that hard too. emot-aaa I keep having to re-read my own story to remember little things about the characters. And as I write certain plot changes or dynamics seem to happen of their own accord. I say "no, no! leave foul new idea!" But they develop along with the fic and threaten to make it unweildy. So continuity. Ouch. But it must stay. *glares at pc screen*

Itsuke wrote: This story is like a drug, it keeps you wanting more.

Cool, Itsuke, I have no probs with that. etc-wankgirl *offers candy from dark alley*

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#16 | Back to Top12-23-2008 02:48:40 PM

TawnyAngel
Juri Jeerer
From: Wales
Registered: 05-08-2008
Posts: 47

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

*Brain explodes from awesome-overload* emot-dance Can't wait to see more of this!

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#17 | Back to Top12-26-2008 04:18:05 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

*cries over TawnyAngel's brain* school-devil
But hey thanks emot-biggrin More shall cometh.

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#18 | Back to Top01-09-2009 08:41:32 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Woot. Over the 20 000 word mark! I know I'm excited, but Touga wants to know why several hundred more of those words have not been dedicated to his hair (as yet). And SKU fans everywhere are begging me for sex (no, not me you dirty people - the characters school-devil). It's called warm-up people. Very very slow 20 000 words of warm up.

Chapter 11: Weapons

At first I was frozen.

Beside me Touga leapt up, while Wakaba clutched my arm. Juri was on her feet, backing away slowly, dragging Miki with her. Nanami, Tsuwabuki and Keiko were clinging to each other seemingly unaware of the fact. A horrified Saionji had fallen off his chair and was staring up at Akio from the floor.

Meanwhile Anthy hadn’t even turned her head to look at her brother. Rather her eyes were glued on me. I didn’t understand her expression which was a strange mix of panic and appeal. Slowly I pushed myself to my feet, my own eyes flitting from Akio to Anthy and back again. A sense of dread hung thickly in the air. Was that buzzing only in my imagination?

“Do you like it, Utena-kun?” Akio’s voice was richly amused, like he was about to burst into laughter at any moment. “Do you like the pain of the million swords of hatred?”

“W…What?” I stammered, and having managed speech I was suddenly able to rush to stand beside Anthy’s kneeling form. It was hard to think past the cloying fear that dampened my back with sudden sweat. Vaguely I felt one of Anthy’s damp hands brush my leg. She was sweating too.

“You’ve had a little taste.” Akio’s knowing eyes brushed my abdomen. “Did you like it?”

“Stop it, you bastard!” Juri’s voice was cold and clipped. Out of the corner of my eye I saw she was shaking, although she held herself stiffly erect. Miki was with her, both of them having moved to stand supportively at my shoulders. If they’d had swords they would have been holding them in defensive postures. But Akio just laughed, placing one hand on his slim hip in an arrogant pose.

“Do you think you deserve it?” he asked me, ignoring Juri. “Or have you had enough? Perhaps…Anthy deserves it more?” He smiled in apparent kindness down at his sister, but I knew it was a lie, just like everything about him. His smile snapped my temper, helping me gather up my fragmented courage.

“She never deserved it!” I hissed. “You did! You do!” I took a step toward him, but was immediately pulled back by Juri and Miki grabbing my shoulders, while Anthy wound an arm around my legs. Akio threw back his head and laughed.

“You seem a little confused,” he purred, running one hand through his long hair, which he wore out to match his prince’s uniform. “The prince doesn’t bear the swords. That is the duty of the rose bride.” His eyes narrowed as he glanced down at her again, obviously trying to get her attention. “After all it’s Anthy’s fault that the prince became World’s End. Isn’t it, Anthy?”

Somebody gasped. Someone else cried out.

“Is that true?” asked Saionji almost wonderingly.

“I believe it!” said Nanami, glaring at Anthy with tangible hatred and fear.

“Don’t be an idiot, you can’t believe a word this dog says,” bit out Juri.

“Oh I don’t know,” murmured Touga. “Some of what he says makes sense.”

“Traitor!” hissed Saionji.

“Let’s get out of here,” Keiko begged nobody in particular.

“It’s not Himemiya’s fault,” I shouted, holding up one hand to stop them all. “She tried to save Akio-san a long time ago.” I glowered across the room at him.

“You don’t have a very good understanding of, well, anything really,” said Akio mildly, as though he was talking to an idiot toddler. “I don’t think you should be the one telling this story. Not when you’re missing one…key…piece.” His tone was dark with destructive promise. I wanted to yell questions at him even while I wanted to pick Anthy up and flee.

While I teetered on indecision the tableau unexpectedly shifted. Unbelievably Miki stepped forward and snapped out the question that was foremost on his mind.

“Where’s Kozue?” He glanced back appealingly to Juri and with a sigh she stepped forward to join him.

“And Shiori?” she added wearily.

Akio regarded them both as though they were his own errant children.
“There there,” he said placatingly. “They’re in the hospital of course. Surely Anthy’s told you all about the little accident she was responsible for. Or maybe she didn’t tell you? Witches do like to have their secrets.” He sneered down at his sister and her arm tightened reflexively around my legs. Without looking away from the danger I reached one hand down to touch her hair.

“How badly is Kozue hurt?” asked Miki in a shaking voice. He sagged where he stood and I suddenly understood that he would be no help now. It was as though Akio had disarmed him with some particularly clever swordplay.

“She asked for you,” purred Akio, “right before she fell into a coma.”

Miki made a noise that sounded like a strangled sob. Somehow I was reminded of the long-ago duel when Touga beat me, when I thought he was my prince. His words had been like a sword then. And hadn’t Anthy said the swords were words in this world? Or had they always been words?

Juri growled and stepped protectively past Miki, putting her within arm’s reach of Akio.

“You’re so full of it,” she told him. “How can we believe you when you’re the prince of lies?” Akio merely laughed into her accusing face.

“I take it you’re not so concerned about Shiori-kun. And you’d accuse me of having no heart.” He smiled wolfishly. Juri took a step back. I couldn’t see her face but the set of her shoulders was uneven. Slowly her head slumped forward. Akio laughed again. Without knowing what I did I strode forward to rest my hand on her back.

Something shattered. There was an unexpected flash of heat and light. I was doing something to Juri, something that caused her shoulders to straighten and her head to rise. The locket around her neck had started glowing with intense golden light. My hand felt like it was glued between her shoulder blades, pressing a little to the left over where her heart must be. An energy was surging between us, born of will and fire.

“Utena!” cried Anthy from behind me as the others gasped and murmured. Over Juri’s shoulder I saw Akio’s eyes widen, than narrow in consideration. Whatever it was, it lasted only seconds before my hand fell away to hang limply by my side. I swayed there, feeling drained and more than a little confused. In stark contrast, Juri exploded into action.

“Bastard!” she hissed, and she punched him. Technically it was a beautiful punch; my world slowed down to a snail’s pace and I could see that she excelled in punching like she did in fencing. Had she taken lessons? Her fist arced toward Akio’s jaw in what would surely be the right hook of the century…

Time snapped back into motion. Akio caught Juri’s wrist in one hand and twisted. There was a snapping sound. With a strangled cry she fell to the side. I stared. He had done that negligently like she was nothing to him, less than nothing. His eyes met mine and he smiled like the predator he was. Before I could move he was on me, backhanding me with tremendous force. My lip split under the jagged edge of his rose seal. Crumpled next to Juri, I lay dazed as Akio laughed above us.

“Pathetic,” he crowed. “Did you think you’d save her, Utena-kun? How can you? You can’t even save yourself.” He reached inside the breast pocket of his jeweled shirt. “Remember this?” I pushed myself up into a half-sitting position, staring dazedly at the white silk handkerchief he’d revealed. It was wrapped around something, some mystery object that sent my teeth humming and crimson flashing in front of my eyes. Desperately I struggled to my feet, standing in a half-crouch over the moaning Juri.

“The first victor to wield her own sword,” purred Akio, sweeping the room with languid eyes. He had a captive audience, each duelist simply watching him in stationary shock. Slowly, surely he allowed the handkerchief to flutter open. My eyes were riveted to the two long shards of broken metal within. So familiar…I felt like I was going to be sick. With a flourish Akio let the pieces fall. My knees gave out the instant the metal hit. I hit the floor hard, knees than face.

“So much for the sword of nobility,” he smirked, as I writhed helplessly at his feet. “It turned out to be…defective.” Negligently he bought one white boot down hard on the remains of my heart-sword, grinding it against the floor by my head. Anthy screamed my name. I think maybe some of the others did too, but hers was the only voice I could make out. Everything went black.

But only for one merciful second.

The world rushed back. Somehow I managed to raise my head, seeing everything tainted with bloody streaks. My head whirled as Akio sauntered past me toward his still-kneeling sister.

“So much for your girl prince,” he sneered to her. She finally looked up at him and her eyes were blank with what I now knew was hatred. Why had I never seen it? Had it been hidden behind something else?

“What is a prince without a sword?” Akio asked as though it was the most reasonable question in the world. He reached a hand down toward her. “The sword of Dios disappeared, sister. The sword of nobility is broken. There is no power left to revolutionize the world, now is there?”

Anthy’s eyes were blank, horrifically blank. I moaned.

“There is no world but that which we know,” Akio’s voice was terribly gentle. “I’ve come to take you back to our home, Anthy.” He smiled, looking like the prince who could save all the girls in the world. “We’ve always been together,” he murmured to her, as though they were alone in the room. “We always will be.”

It sounded so reasonable when he put it like that. I felt the magic moving beneath his words, so smoothly certain. He was the prince, the original and the only. He had come to claim his family, and to dethrone imposters. The lie slid against my mind (warm and comforting) for a moment…then I thrust it away. It was a lie! He was the liar!

“Anthy!” I screamed. I pounded my fist into the floor, pushing my trembling body to its feet. I didn’t need some stupid sword. I had my will for a sword. And my will was Anthy! Her shocked eyes snapped up to mine. There was nothing in them for one hellish moment, then the blankness became awareness. Desperately I stumbled forward, half falling every second.

“Leave,” she told her brother. Her voice was small and quiet, but oh so definite. It brooked no arguments. It wasn’t submissive. Gasping, he drew his hand back, as though she’d burned him.

“Don’t do this,” he told her, and while his voice was calm his raging eyes were anything but. “You don’t have much power left, do you Anthy? That little stunt at the tea house…the car accident…” He folded his arms. “What is a rose bride without her beloved Dios? Without the castle of eternity?” His tone took on an edge of resentment. “What is a witch without the million swords of hatred?”

“Are you afraid?” asked Anthy and it wasn’t a question. Her eyes were so cold it hurt me just to see them, even directed elsewhere. Slowly she raised both her hands to Akio, palms facing forward.

“This will be the last time you interfere!” Akio warned her, enraged and petulant all at once. I stumbled closer. “You won’t be able to protect her much longer,” he railed at Anthy. But he was backing away all the same. “Why are you wasting your time?!”

“Why are you blind to the truth?” she replied and her eyes were like ice as a lone tear slid down her cheek. She murmured something, something I couldn’t hear properly, or else didn’t have a frame of reference for and just…pushed out. She pushed her palms out toward Akio, but didn’t touch him…

The world exploded into white. I tripped over myself and fell just short of Akio, or rather of where he had been. Akio’s form rushed backwards past me, past everyone, out the door and into the night. The door slammed. I struggled back to my feet as the aftershock slammed through the air. I could have sworn I heard the echo of Akio’s laughter in the roaring around me. Helplessly I fell back to the floor. So close to where Anthy knelt now, she was only inches away…I wrapped my fingers in her skirt. I blinked up at her as the white shimmer faded.

“Anthy,” I croaked.

“You called me Anthy,” she said, as though that was the most fascinating thing to come out of the meeting. Her eyes were wide and soft, softer even than her hands brushing away the blood from my split lip.

“Uh,” I said foolishly, “I guess I did.”

“We have to get out of here!” Nanami was on her feet, wild-eyed and terrified, hair looking like a bomb had gone off. (Which maybe it had. I was rather unclear on the nature of the proceedings.) “He could be back at any moment!” she shrieked. “Run!” Several people started to do just that.

“Stop,” Anthy’s quiet voice was like an iron reed. Nanami stopped. Everybody stopped. We all looked at Anthy, still on her knees in the most unthreatening position imaginable. I couldn’t help noticing the fear on most faces. It bothered me, even while I understood it to be a fair reaction. “I’ve bought us some time,” she said, with such certainty that it was impossible to doubt her. “We have at least a day to escape him. Probably two.”

“What do we do?” fretted Wakaba, flittering over to crouch down next to us. “He said,” she flashed a petrified glance at Anthy, “your ah, p…power is gone?” Anthy didn’t confirm or deny it. She merely looked over to where Miki was helping Juri struggle into a sitting position.

“You have resources for us to try and outrun him?” she asked Juri.

For a long level moment Juri stared across the room at Anthy, clutching her obviously broken wrist with her good hand. Then her eyes flickered to me, and she sighed.

“Yes. Yes I do. Miki-kun…what we talked about. Can you arrange it now?” He rushed to obey her.

“I’m outta here!” Keiko stumbled to the door and started pulling fruitlessly at the handle. “You people are crazy! You should all leave now, and let the chairman have her.” She glared in Anthy’s general direction without daring to look right at her. “You heard what he said,” she gasped, her fingers scrambling madly. The door seemed to be stuck. “It’s her fault anyway, so leave her and let’s get out of here. He doesn’t want us, he wants her!”

“He wants us all,” I said, and I knew it to be the unpalatable truth, even as I still didn’t know how I knew it. “He needs Himemiya first, but he’ll come for us all in the end.” I looked at Keiko, and suddenly her knobbly elbows clawing at the door seemed rather insect-like to me. “Don’t go, Sonoda-kun,” I pleaded. “You won’t be safe.”

“Shut up!” she gasped, tugging at the door. “You’re an idiot and you don’t know anything.”

“We’re all his pawns,” said Saionji miserably from the ruins of his chair. “Game pieces for him to use and destroy. I think I always knew it, felt it deep inside.”

“Don’t be a fool,” retorted Touga, reaching down to haul his friend off the floor. “Snap out of it.”

“No, you snap out of it!” hissed Saionji, clutching Touga’s shirt in angry fingers. “You think you’re so smart! But really you’re being set up for a bigger fall than the rest of us poor scum.”

Touga stared at Saionji silently, and he didn’t push him away. I wondered what he was thinking beneath his cool exterior.

“Let me go!” cried Keiko again, “I have to go!” Beside me I heard Anthy murmur almost under her breath in the affirmative. The door came open at last, and Keiko stumbled outside and was gone. I stared over Anthy’s shoulder after her, wondering how it had come to be that Anthy was buried in my arms, which were under her arms and over her shoulders. I clutched her convulsively to my chest. Although she couldn’t see my face she answered my questioning look, whispering against my neck:

“It was her choice.” Slowly I found myself nodding. But I didn’t like it. We shouldn’t leave anyone behind, even Keiko. Even if she didn’t want to be saved. Yet we didn’t have time to go after her…

“If we have to trust one of them, and we have no other choice, I say we trust the rose bride,” snapped Nanami. Tsuwabuki was dusting her off. She glowered over at us and I could see in every tense line of her body that she was scared stiff and trying to hide it.

“I’m not the rose bride,” said Anthy, even as I said:

“She’s not the rose bride.”

“Whatever,” sniffed Nanami. “At least we have you,” she glared at me, “as some kind of guarantee.”

“Huh?” I said.

But Nanami ignored me as I helped Anthy to her feet, wrapping one arm over her slim shoulders. I swayed a little, feeling an ache deep inside my chest. Anthy swayed too, clearly exhausted. Mournfully I surveyed the rubble all around us that had minutes before been Juri’s tastefully decorated lounge.

“A van is on its way,” announced Miki, rushing back into the room. “We need to pack. Hurry.”

“Oh goody,” said Saionji, “I suppose I get to wear clothes that belong to a midget.” He sneered at Miki who manfully ignored him.

“Poor Keiko-sempai,” said Tsuwabuki mournfully.

“Don’t be silly,” snapped Nanami, but she sounded worried.

Juri picked her way over to where Anthy and I stood, stepping over the remains of her couch as she nursed her arm against her chest.

“I just want to say,” she said through gritted teeth, “you two are officially uninvited for dinner.”

“Uh sorry,” I mumbled. I knew that this was just Juri’s way of keeping it together. She wasn’t one to show weakness of any kind.

“Your furniture was very nice,” said Anthy, sounding quite unrepentant.

“Yes,” growled Juri, “yes it was.”

I flushed. You really couldn’t take Anthy anywhere.

TBC in Chapter 12: Beneath the Surface

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#19 | Back to Top01-09-2009 09:23:16 PM

Itsuke
Pathtracer
Registered: 12-08-2008
Posts: 341

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

oh my, Anthy is losing her power??? emot-gonk
Chapter 12 please!!!

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#20 | Back to Top01-10-2009 09:51:08 AM

TawnyAngel
Juri Jeerer
From: Wales
Registered: 05-08-2008
Posts: 47

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

emot-dance More epic awesomeness! *Worships Sharnii a little bit*

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#21 | Back to Top01-13-2009 06:22:59 PM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Itsuke wrote: oh my, Anthy is losing her power??? emot-gonk
Chapter 12 please!!!

Oh my indeed. school-devil

TawnyAngel wrote: emot-dance More epic awesomeness! *Worships Sharnii a little bit*

*receives worship, making sure Akio isn't looking...*

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#22 | Back to Top01-13-2009 08:15:45 PM

Itsuke
Pathtracer
Registered: 12-08-2008
Posts: 341

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

sharnii, awwwwww, seeing your new post, I thought chapter 12 was finally here! You fooled me.... emot-gonk I want my chapter 12..... *dies*

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#23 | Back to Top02-16-2009 08:00:25 AM

sharnii
Pharaoh of Phanstuff
From: Melbourne Australia
Registered: 08-10-2008
Posts: 2416
Website

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Aw Itsuke, soz you died just before emot-tongue Maybe now you can live again...briefly...

AUTHOR'S NOTE: God, this was a truly awful chapter to write...I'm just having a bit of a venting whine here (isn't it annoying when authors do that? school-devil). Simply awful. The hardest chapter so far - not the original write which happened in November emot-aaa but the editing. It was just a nightmare. I don't know why exactly - maybe all the (tiny) scene changes, or the info I needed to get across at this point? Anyway getting it to flow okay was like pulling teeth.

But the good news for regular readers is I've kept writing the rest of the story, and so far the next couple chapters have undergone prelim edits smoothly. Yay, because this means faster updates.

Chapter 12: Beneath the Surface

It was a nightmare, it had to be. Nine of us crammed into one camper van on a murderously hot day. We were racing down a road in the middle of nowhere. The van was painted red (Miki had mumbled his apologies, ironically the rental shop had no other colors available), which magnified the unbearable heat. Naturally the sky was cloudlessly blue. I was reminded of the gaping maw of some mythical beast, hovering over its next meal. All around us stretched what appeared to be a desert landscape. I didn’t remember there ever having been wilderness nearby. And wasn’t it winter?

Saionji was driving, with Wakaba as his self-appointed company in the passenger seat. I could hear the high-pitched buzz of her constant conversation through the partition. Obviously she was excited to have her highschool crush all to herself. I couldn’t hear anything from him aside from the occasional grunt.

Everyone else was crowded miserably in the camping section; Juri and Miki were seated on the bottom bunk, Miki expertly wrapping a bandage around her wrist. Nanami was having her hair brushed by Tsuwabuki on the top bunk (which was rather disturbing to watch). Touga was stretched out laconically on a tiger-skin, filling the floor space with his sinuous frame. He looked remarkably comfortable. Finally there was an old armchair in the very back (as out of place as the rug) which I was sharing with Anthy half-seated on top of me. I was hot and sweaty with my hair sticking unpleasantly to my neck. Yet I wouldn’t have moved for anything.

Anthy had been quiet and almost…washed-out since the confrontation at Juri’s, and I wanted to keep an eye on her. For my own part I was conscious of my wound throbbing lightly where her spine pressed against me (but who cared about something like that), and of a general ache in the vicinity of my heart. Frankly I was more attentive to the threatening blue sky, just outside those ridiculously frilly curtains. No, Anthy wasn’t going anywhere if I had anything to do about it. Wrapping my arms loosely around her waist I breathed in her comforting scent.

“Where are we going anyway?” asked Nanami. “Ow. Have a care, Tsuwabuki-kun. Be gentle!”

“Yes, Nanami-sama, sorry.” He sounded more excited than repentant. I guessed it wasn’t everyday a just-turned teenager got to be so intimate with his adult mistress.

“We need to put distance between us and Ohtori-san.” Juri’s voice was thoughtful. “We need time to decide what to do.”

“Yes,” said Miki, “although…it bothers me that we’re going away from Kozue.”

“We have no choice,” Juri reminded him. “She’s with the chairman. You can be sure he’ll be aware of everything that happens to her.”

“Yes,” he said dejectedly. “I hope she’s not hurt too badly.”

“He’s a liar,” Juri told him. “I doubt she’s in a coma…” She paused uncertainly, obviously realizing she had no way of proving that statement. Miki was hanging his head.

Awkward silence.

“What’s so interesting outside?” asked Touga. With a start I realized he’d propped himself up on his elbows and was watching me intently.

“Er nothing,” I said, face burning.

“Oh really?” he purred back.

“It’s so hot,” I moaned, trying to change the subject. Anthy was wearing a midriff top in palest green and I watched in fascination as a line of sweat dripped down her stomach. It ended up sliding past the waistband of her schoolgirl-style skirt, which remained as short as in our school days. Her legs slid smoothly along my own mostly bared ones. This was clearly the advantage of wearing my mini-shorts…I blushed at my odd thoughts without knowing why.

“I’m tired,” Anthy murmured. Half-turning she pushed her head against my chest. I moved to wrap my arm accommodatingly around her shoulders.

“Sleep,” I told her. “We don’t have to do anything right now.” She husked something I didn’t quite catch and relaxed against me. Her forehead was digging into my collarbone but I didn’t want to move her. Something told me she needed all the rest she could get. My arms tightened a little. I just…didn’t want to lose her. The craziness of current events made me fear I might. But that couldn’t happen, right? Since the last duel, I didn’t have to worry about things like that. Right? I fretted and studiously avoided looking in Touga’s direction.

A little while later when Anthy was soundly asleep (and snoring into my ear, worst luck) Juri picked her way over to perch on the arm of our chair. Her injured wrist was swathed in bandages now, strapped against her chest in a sling.

“I’m sorry,” she said quietly in her rather abrupt fashion. Covertly she glanced toward the others, checking that they couldn’t overhear. “I understand now why you er…” She paused uncertainly.

“Lost my spine?” I filled in for her. She had the good grace to blush. I dredged up a grin. “Oh well, good, because I’m not so sure how it happened myself.” Juri looked like she didn’t know whether to believe me.

“Your heart sword is broken,” she told me. “Right? That’s what those shards of metal were?” I only shivered in response and she touched my arm lightly. “How anyone could survive that I don’t know. It’s no wonder you’re…different. But somehow you’re still the same.” One graceful hand moved to start fiddling with her locket, and I felt oddly uncomfortable without knowing why.

“Thank you for…whatever it is you did to help me back there.” Oddly enough she sounded uncomfortable too.

“No problem,” I muttered, “you would have done the same for me.” She looked up again and for one heartstopping moment I felt like I was drowning in pools of green…that weren’t the pools I wanted to be drowning in. I wrenched my eyes away and looked down at the top of Anthy’s head instead. There, that was safe. When had Anthy stopped snoring?

Juri cleared her throat. “How did it get broken?” she asked me, gently for her, and after all that had happened I thought I should try to tell her that much.

“Akio used it to try and beat down the rose gate,” I said. “He thought it was the key. But it wasn’t.”

“The door to eternity,” murmured Juri, something very like awe in her voice. She studied me intently. “Did it…open then? Did you…”

“Yes,” I admitted. “I don’t know how but I got it open.” Reflexively I glanced at the tracery of scars on my hands. Juri’s eyes followed mine.

“What was there?” she asked slowly.

“Anthy,” I said, testing the unfamiliar-familiar name on my tongue. It was strange not to call her Himemiya, for I always had. But in this time and place with so much between us, it was also right.

Juri gasped again. “What?!”

“It was her coffin,” I revealed, as I started to stroke Anthy’s hair. “She didn’t even know me at first.” We fell silent as we both thought about the ramifications of that. Juri didn’t speak for a long time, just watched me watching Anthy. I was too tired to ask what she was thinking, and she didn’t volunteer it.

Eventually she got up and went back to Miki. They conversed in whispers, conspicuously not looking at me. I sighed. No doubt they were back to their plotting and planning. Well. Maybe somebody should be. Anthy kept her own counsel. And I didn’t have any head for games, either five years previous or now when I needed to even more.

* * *

An hour later we saw the first sign of pursuit. Touga was standing at the window gazing out when he shouted in alarm.

“There!”

Juri and Miki were at his sides in a moment, straining to see.

“What is it?!” I asked from where I was trapped cradling Anthy.

“I don’t know yet,” said Touga grimly. “But it looks like Akio-san.”

I swore under my breath.

“It’s a red convertible,” Miki told me. “It’s gaining.”

I swore again. Nanami whimpered from the bunk.

“Wait a minute,” said Juri, “is it really a convertible?”

The three of them stared some more.

“Nooo,” said Touga at last, “I don’t think it is. It’s some other model I haven’t seen before. Close though.”

“Very close,” murmured Miki. “They’re going to pass us.”

“Who’s in it?” I asked. What the hell was going on?!

“Um, three girls,” revealed Miki. “I can’t see them properly, the sun’s in my eyes…they’re just silhouettes.”

“They look familiar,” said a grim Juri.

“Not to me.” That was Touga. He shrugged at Juri’s annoyed look.

“There’s another car coming already,” pointed out Miki. “See that dust cloud on the horizon?”

“There’s been no traffic at all until now,” noted Touga, before continuing in a surprised voice: “it’s red.”

I gasped and Tsuwabuki climbed down the bunk to run to where the others stood at the window.

“It would be red,” muttered Juri.

“It’s a convertible!” announced Miki.

I couldn’t stand it. I slipped out from beneath Anthy, trying my best not to wake her. She slumped to one side and didn’t stir, confirming to my mind her newfound vulnerability. Not that she wasn’t always oddly vulnerable…

I rushed to press myself between Juri and Touga. The convertible was rapidly gaining, despite the fact we were fairly flying down the road. As it drew even we all gasped. It was…was it…Akio-san? No it couldn’t be…

It wasn’t.

But the long-haired man in the business suit bore more than a passing resemblance. He titled his sunglasses and glanced over to smile at us. We gaped like idiots. His car roared on ahead and then out of sight.

“Weird,” muttered Tsuwabuki. “Come and see, Nanami-sama.”

“No thanks,” she growled from the top bunk.

“This is ridiculous,” hissed Juri. Another red car had already appeared on the horizon. “He’s playing with us. He has to be.”

“Maybe it’s a coincidence,” said Touga. We all watched this red car (rather beat up as though it had been in an accident) struggle to pass us. Two young women were in evidence: the violet-haired one with her arm in a sling, and the blue-haired one apparently asleep in the passenger seat. Or at least she was slumped back and her eyes were closed… Miki froze. Juri looked outraged.

“It’s not them,” she told him stiffly. “Just relax.” And she was right, it wasn’t anyone we knew. It was just a red car, and they were just strangers. Slowly but surely they passed us, leaving us shivering in their wake and watching the horizon.

We waited.

Long minutes passed. No more cars came. We waited some more. Eventually we drifted back to our places, one by silent one.

The cars had been coincidence. Just like the desert. Just like the way Akio kept turning up at the worst possible time. I gritted my teeth as I slid back into the armchair and gently repositioned Anthy’s sleeping form. Sure. Coincidence.

* * *

The sun was sinking into the horizon when we pulled up at a convenient hotel. Actually the hotel was a tad too convenient…it was a five star tower, obviously belonging in a bustling city. Yet here it was just when we needed it, standing on the edge of the unnatural wilderness. It was wrong.

Juri and Miki discussed this while Saionji and Touga bickered. Eventually the group headed into the hotel to book anyway (where else could we go?), leaving me alone in the van with my still sleeping companion. In the gathering shadows of twilight I bent my head toward her ear.

“Anthy,” I whispered enjoying the taste of her name on my lips, and the accompanying sensation of her own lips brushing the hollow of my neck where she lay.

“Utena-sama,” she murmured, which made me frown, and then there was an instant where I felt minute tension in her body as she froze. No doubt she was wondering where (and when?) she was. Then she relaxed and leaned back to look up at me. My arms were loosely around her now. Her eyes were so innocent, so vulnerable, as I had always noticed. Yet suddenly I saw they were also ancient…knowing…cold. Beneath the warmth was something…sly. Was this what some of the others had seen? Why they didn’t like her? I gasped just a little.

She stayed still and gazed back at me. For a moment I wondered if she knew what I was thinking…if she always knew.

“Your eyes…” I stumbled to a stop.

“Yes?” she husked.

“Th…they’re beautiful.” I meant it. Beneath that ancient slyness was something else, something new. Something I could only just glimpse – something being born.

She laughed. It was a joyous sound, and in that moment she looked wild and fey. Helplessly I ran one hand through the glorious mane of her hair. She smiled up at me, looking so much better than she had, and only a little tired. Her head leaned into my hand as her hand rose to rest lightly on my chest, directly over where my heart-sword was. I sighed at the strange sensation. Slowly the low-level throbbing intensified, almost like her questing fingers were a brand.

“It hurts,” she said, not a question.

“Yes,” I gasped, and I was not surprised to see the globe of light she always conjured begin to illuminate her hand.

“Let me…just try this,” she murmured and her eyes slanted half-shut in concentration. They always did when she drew my sword. I saw they were secretive, even seductive. Had I truly never noticed that before?

“Okay,” I husked back, biting my lip at the familiar sensation. As always I felt pleasure course through me, building and building until it hovered right on the point of pain. My eyes dropped closed and my head went limp against the chair-back. If I’d been standing surely my body would have flowed backwards, caught up in the magic of this ritual. But it was different this time. Pain was flaring too, in ever-higher arcs, making me gasp and writhe beneath Anthy’s hand. My stinging eyes blinked back open to see Anthy’s were wide as she studied the burst of light.

“It’s okay, shhh. Just try and keep still,” she murmured to me, trying to lift her hand to call the sword forth. I glimpsed the very tip of the jeweled foil begin to emerge and then it stopped with a grating sound. I ground my teeth. Agonizing. Something was going wrong.

“Hold on,” she whispered again, creases of concentration lining her forehead. About an inch of the handle appeared, excruciatingly slowly. It stalled again, catching jarringly on something deep inside, forcing me to cry out in anguish. Anthy flashed me a frantic look.

“Just a few more seconds…” My eyes closed against my will as she kept pulling; I bit my lip to stop from crying out again. I tasted blood. Fires burned on the back of my eyelids.

“I’m sorry,” Anthy sounded frustrated now. “Utena, I’m going to have to force it.”

“Do it,” I somehow gasped, desperate for the ordeal to be over. Anthy grunted with effort and pulled. I moaned, then yelled. A sunburst of light flared so brightly I saw it through my eyelids. With a horrible rasping sound like bone scraping bone, what was left of my heart-sword flew free.

I knew it was gone because the pain subsided immediately. Hesitantly my eyes blinked open. Raising one shaking hand to wipe my sweaty brow I looked at the heart-sword Anthy held. It was broken beyond repair, just one inch of jagged metal attached to the hilt. Useless.

“It’s beautiful,” whispered Anthy, raising it to eye level. I dragged my eyes away from the sword to meet hers in shock.

“It’s broken.”

Anthy smiled into my eyes and pressed her lips to the hilt.

“It’s even more beautiful than it was,” she told me.

“Um,” I said, feeling my usual flood of confusion at her strange sayings. “Can it be fixed?” Anthy didn’t meet my eyes as she beckoned to ChuChu and handed him the blade (where on earth had he been all this time?! I didn’t remember seeing him since before the meeting…) Self-importantly he received it and scurried off.

“No,” she told me, and I heard regret (and guilt?) in her subdued voice. But then she smiled and stroked the valley between my breasts, in what was probably meant to be a soothing gesture. “But maybe there’s another way.”

“Another way?” I echoed shuddering against her touch. Her fingers were surprisingly distracting now the aching had stopped. Or maybe they were like that because of the aching.

“Come on,” she told me, rising gracefully and pulling me up to join her. “The others are waiting for us.”

I scowled as I followed her. Why couldn’t she just answer me like a normal person? If she sensed my irritation she ignored it. We stepped from the van to meet two sets of quizzical eyes.

“We heard screaming,” burst out Tsuwabuki.

“It was nothing,” murmured Anthy, still holding my hand. I thought about pulling away then sighed in resignation. I didn’t want to lose contact with her, even now.

“Oh yes,” snarked Nanami, “I’m so sure.” She glared at Anthy who didn’t seem to notice.

“Let’s go,” she told me instead, pulling me lightly toward the looming hotel tower. I followed, wondering what Nanami and her minion had been doing loitering outside.

“I’m sick of never knowing anything,” I mumbled.

“It’s the price you pay,” Anthy told me, as we entered the revolving glass doors. “For knowing everything.”

“Right,” I muttered. “Uhuh.” But I followed her meekly.

TBC in Chapter 13: Under the Stars

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#24 | Back to Top02-17-2009 07:06:59 AM

Itsuke
Pathtracer
Registered: 12-08-2008
Posts: 341

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

sharnii wrote:

Anthy smiled into my eyes and pressed her lips to the hilt.

S.E.X.Y!!

So glad to have read your newest chapter before I go crashing onto my bed, now I will have that wonderful imagery to accompany me in my sleep~ emot-dance

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#25 | Back to Top02-17-2009 09:27:05 AM

TawnyAngel
Juri Jeerer
From: Wales
Registered: 05-08-2008
Posts: 47

Re: [fanfiction] Roses Grow (Utena/Anthy, post-anime)

Joy! Another awesome chapter Sharnii!

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