Utena, Revolutionary Girl Fan Fiction ❯ A Tale of Two Princes ❯ An Uneasy Truce ( Chapter 1 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Chapter 1: An Uneasy Truce
Rating: PG-13
"Just You and I" by Melissa Manchester
This story will contain a mild amount of Shoujo-ai Content
Utena and its character do not belong to me. I am just borrowing.
He looked reflective, which was an odd change in her opinion, most of the time he seemed overly confident and smug to her critical hazel eyes. She did not know why, but she knew at that moment she had to speak with him.
He was sitting on a bench beneath a tree near one of the many ponds that dotted the Ohtori campus. His dark blue eyes while open seemed distant, as if he were looking far off beyond his reach. His signature red hair was unaccustomedly pulled back into a loose ponytail. He had on a tight black T-shirt and his uniform jacket hung over the back of the bench to his right. He crossed his legs and his lips pursed as if he were going to speak, and then relaxed again. He turned to look at her and then sadly turned away.
Her approach was as regal as always, but cautious of his state. She sat down next to him, leaning back into the bench and focused her attention to the water in the pond instead of his face.
"How may I help you today, Miss Arisugawa," he asked taking the lead as he so enjoyed doing.
"I do not require your help...but-"
"But," there was a definite melancholy to the way he spoke.
It troubled her greatly; even when he slipped into a defeated depression over losing the Rose Bride to Utena Tenjou she had not found herself so concerned. The worry caused her to shift her gaze towards him, and she crossed her arms over her chest, right hand lingering near her chin and fingers curling around it before releasing.
"I think we need to speak," she managed finally.
Her eyes shut, and then she sighed, "The prince."
"She's gone, what more can be said but that? She is gone and we are here. And he is still here, though languishing in defeat in his tower."
It was difficult to come up with a response to that, so she merely changed the subject.
"Do you remember the old days, those days when you and I and Ruka would meet? We would sit and talk about things, or rather, I think mostly, I just listened to you and Ruka. But you used to tease him and me relentlessly. The innuendos you managed to create, I am sometimes very amazed that I never lost my temper with you."
He managed a grin at that point.
She continued, "I think we could have been better friends sometimes, if things hadn't gotten in the way."
"Perhaps," he whispered. "I could have been a better friend to many people, but I was blinded. I wanted to be the prince. I thought I knew that meant. I was wrong."
The mood sunk a little more with the last statement. And Juri sucked it in and let it out with a long breath. It was well due time for the two of them to get things out of the way. It was well due time to start moving on passed what had happened. They did not have to be stuck. They did not have to be chained to regret. The prince had given them that choice. It was small and unseen by most, but it was there. The choice was just waiting to be taken, and made.
"Above all others," she began, "and against all better judgment I trusted you, Touga. You knew my secret. Tell me that you were not the one to divulge it to Ruka."
He grimaced, "It wasn't me."
"But you did tell someone didn't you?"
"You have to ask? Of course I did. Of course I was the very first one he came to. Back then too many of you trusted me with your secrets and he used that. I gave them to him without a care for how it would affect any of you." He seemed to shrink into the bench and whispered, "I thought him a king and therefore wouldn't he know best how I could be a prince?"
"Kings forget."
"So we all have learned." He looked over at her and then said, "I have to leave. I have a class. Will you meet me again?"
She quirked an eyebrow and smirked, "If I see you sitting here, I may find myself obliged to speak with you again, don't count on it."
Juri stood and turned sharply on her heels to head towards the fencing hall. He sat and watched her go for a moment and then left for his class.
When your heroes go up in a puff
And there's not enough
To hold on to
Juri never liked it. She always had so few good friends and it always seemed that in the end they all left her high and dry. Shiori left the school to chase after a boy and her own jealousy. Ruka left without a word as to why, which she latter learned was an illness. And Touga, he had taken her secret and served it up to the retched chairman on a silver platter. It was an easy thing to do, putting all the blame on him. However, Juri was not a fool and as such realized...and quickly that while they played at being adults they were all still just children. They were so easy to manipulate with the chains they had borne and Touga... Wasn't his wish the easiest to corrupt of all?
Through it all, it still amazed her how much more easily hurt she was by Shiori and Ruka. Touga spilling her secret seemed like a small offense in comparison with the others. It seemed a bobble that was meant to break. But the problem with telling someone a secret, she had come to understand, was that there was no way it would ever be kept. Secrets were meant to be told, even if you tell something in confidence, eventually it will leak out. It will escape and grace the ears of those you never wanted to hear. Or rather, secrets will grace the ears of those you fear to tell.
Despite all this, there was a nagging in her insides to attempt something she was not sure she could ever get the hang of, and that was forgiveness. It was the act of blind faith that perhaps the past could, not so much be over looked, but redeem itself in her eyes. She had a glimmer of hope, and for once it warmed her instead of leaving her with a chill of aching disbelief.
Two days after that very first meeting Juri found herself wandering by the same pond again. She was oddly content to see that Touga was there sitting and watching the water. His manner was less melancholy than before although he did seem reticent and perhaps disappointed by something.
She took a seat on the bench and admired the clear brightness of the day. She doubted ever having seen the sky as blue, or the water as clear. A fish made a quick jump in the distance, chasing after a meal and she smiled broadly.
"That, I must say, is a delightful first, Arisugawa," Touga said suddenly.
"What," she turned her attention on him and pushed a stray strand of light auburn hair out of her eyes.
"The smile, I don't think I've ever seen you really smile."
"No, I don't suppose you ever have. It's a rare thing."
"You have a beautiful smile, you should do that more often I think," he replied with only a mild and hidden tone of what she normally regarded as his sly "princely" voice.
She quirked an eyebrow about to scold for the tone and then relaxed, crossing her arms over her chest. She sighed, "You're about the third person in a week to say that to me, Kiryuu. There must be something in the air."
"Indeed. I think it is...relief."
"From what exactly?"
He chuckled, "Is it possible I've acquired information before you? You're usually so on top of the school's secrets, I'm amazed."
"Honestly, I can not be expected to be in the middle of everyone's business at every moment." She smirked and continued, "Although, I do give it an honest try."
"He's left the school."
Her hazel eyes went wide for a brief second and then she slipped into her usual cool, "So, who is replacing the dear chairman?"
"No one of importance."
"If this is true why aren't you-" She stopped herself quickly. A million terrible things ran through her head and she whispered, "Do you think-"
"I think if we worry too much about it, it will drive us insane. The prince can best him. This I believe, the only one I worry for is-"
"But Miss Himemiya has shown she is not the doll we all thought her to be. She's hardly a puppet. They should be fine," her last line was spoken with a question lingering in it.
Touga was right of course they could not worry about it. If they did they'd go mad. Was it belief then, that would keep the prince and her bride from falling? Was it belief that would keep things as they were, changed and for the better? What kept the strength of a revolution from falling apart, even if that revolution could only be felt by a very select few?
Memory, memory was the thing. The past could not be forgotten, it had to be remembered, but not regretted. Regret led to chains and the chains were what had given the chairman power. But remembrance without regret, with understanding, was a lesson in life. It was a something to help guide one in the future. Memory was a great teacher and it was a great destroyer. It was up to those that held the memories to choose the road they would ultimately take. Memory offered the hope that things would change for the better. And Touga and Juri knew they had to hope for the better.
He shifted in his seat crossing his legs uncomfortably. Watching him made her have to ask about something else. Something that she was fully aware of, and would possibly make him more worried than the sudden flight of the chairman. She wondered if it cut him deeply.
She pursed her lips in thought before speaking too glibly and then finding the correct words asked, "Why did Saonji decide to leave?"
His mouth twitched at the corner and then he cleared his throat, "He was worried."
She narrowed her eyes and shook her head, "No, there is something else; otherwise you would not look so guilty. You used to be a better liar you know?"
"I used to be a better playboy altogether, but you know what change will do. He asked me if he should leave, and I told him, yes. And I told him that, not because I wanted him to leave, but because this school is not a good place for him to be."
"And," she asked pointedly.
"And he needs to be able to forge a path clear of my shadow."
Silence and then Juri said, "You blame yourself too much."
"I don't blame myself enough. A prince should take responsibility for his actions."
"But a prince should also know when something was completely beyond his control. Regret leads us no where. It kills the soul."
He stood up and grinned, "You're too pretty to be so damned wise, Arisugawa. Don't you think you should start applying your logic on your self?"
A spark of indignation rose in her chest as he walked away.
He was right though, on some level. He was right.
She sighed and then spoke aloud, perhaps just to hear the words outside of her head, perhaps as a reminder, "This isn't going to be easy, but when was it ever?"
And the ones you would count on to call
They all fall down
All around you
Touga walked expertly passed the throngs of his still, all too, desperate admirers to his locker. Even as he tried to change he still could not escape some of the burdens of his playboy days. He was still a charmer. He could turn the most unsuspecting comment into an innuendo that would make a girl's head spin right into his arms, but there was no longer a thrill to it (he tried to recall if there had ever been). There was no longer a sense of pride in conquering, but that was because he knew, for all his pretended trying, a true prince takes no joy in such petty conquest.
He opened his locker and his shadow was stretched out against the far wall by the setting sun. Inside, a small stack of letters greeted him and he casually looked them over. He never used to read them. He never used to care. Now he did because he wanted to be worthy of a girl prince's love. He had wanted to be the one to protect her. He had wanted to believe that he had tried to do the right things in order to do just that. But in the end he was not worthy of her, and her heart belonged to someone else.
The letters were usually all the same, but he read them in the hopes of discovering something that would make him want more. And while he waited, he would politely and sincerely reply back to those that sought his attentions, declining their generous offers. He knew he could have them if he wanted to, and knowing kept him searching for someone else like Utena Tenjou.
The reason he found her so appealing was her immediate dislike of him. She saw through his false guise and repeatedly threw his meager attempts to woo her in his face. There was a moment or two when he thought he might actually succeed with her. There was that brief respite in which he had beaten her, but she won herself back and destroyed his own sense of self. The chairman helped him briefly to recover from that, but still, in the end....
It was after his last duel with her that he realized his faults. She did not need his protection, and even after everything he could see that she regarded him kindly. It was a cliché feeling she left him with, but in the end it could not be avoided. She made him want to be a better person and what more could one ask of a prince.
He placed the envelopes into his jacket pocket and began to walk towards the fencing hall. There was something stirring inside him that could not be sated by anything save a competition. He was not sure where it emerged from, but he hoped a lone panther would be happy to oblige his request for a match. In fact the sheer idea of spending amount of two with Juri made him smile inwardly.
It made him think of the past. It made him wonder what ever possessed her to tell him her secret.
As he approached the hall he caught the tail end of a conversation that was taking place just around the corner. He stopped and noted the voices that were speaking, both female, and one very obviously belonging to the stoic fencing captain herself.
"I'm...very sorry Juri," the other voice stated. It was petite, with a promise of cruelty though at present it was being completely sincere. "But my parents...and this school... the nightmares-"
On the other side of the wall Touga noted those words very particularly. Nightmares... he had heard of others who were having terrible dreams since the prince had left the school. Some of the students he knew quite well, but most, despite the dreams had no choice but to remain at the school. He could not be certain, but he had the passing idea that the nightmares were connected with the duels.
"I understand. Thank you, for at least telling me in person."
He shook his head as he listened. Arisugawa, you fool why are you letting her slip away from you again, he thought and continued to listen.
"Write me?"
That was a nice and bold request.
"I... I will write you."
There was a type of sorrow there in the fencing captain's tone that made him want to round the corner and knock some sense into her.
"If I get on the fencing team there maybe-"
Such a wonderfully placed suggestion, there was so much he could make out of that little hint from the girl, but there was Juri interrupting, a stoic and impenetrable wall.
You should have asked her to stay. She wants you to ask her to stay, but you won't, will you? You're afraid of her, Touga conceded as the conversation died away, taking it in for all it was worth.
He had never understood the attraction Juri had felt for the girl, that girl, her deepest secret, a small petite little thing that could be broken so easily, and was probably stronger than she seemed. He had always found the girl so forgettable, but then he supposed there was something to be said for that. He wondered what Juri was continuing to protect the girl from. Why would she send the girl away?
It stung him then, and he thought about Saonji. He grimaced.
We send them away to protect them, Arisugawa, but do they really need it? We may never really know until it's too late. I'm sure he needed to be away from me. We just couldn't be friends like we had been. Is it the same for you? Do the feelings you have for her, or had for her...Do they keep you from letting her get close again, he thought to himself, wondering why he should care, and more precisely why he really did care.
Once he was quite certain that he would not be intruding he rounded the corner and met with the steely hazel gaze of Juri Arisugawa. He grinned, finding amusement in her displeasure. She had known someone was there, that was why she kept her answers short. Or perhaps it wasn't that at all, but he was certain to find out.
"Eavesdropping," she questioned quickly.
His grin spread wide across his lips and he almost chuckled as he replied, "Never. I was just in the neighborhood and-"
She sighed heavily and shook her head cutting him short, "Inside, Kiryuu, and I do hope for your sake you're up for a serious challenge."
When you've got to believe there's more
There is a reason your put herefor
Touga would be fooling himself greatly if he refused to admit that he found Juri attractive. It would be an utter and appalling lie, not to mention a severe disservice to the young woman. He never fooled himself. He fully admitted that Juri was indeed a beauty the likes of which there was hardly a comparison anywhere on campus. And there was no other place in the whole of the academy, save the fencing hall, where her beauty and poise where better suited, and magnified almost tenfold.
It was important for him to come to terms with this, both for his own well being, and personal safety. He did not doubt that she was capable of inflicting tremendous damage if the mere face of his physical attraction towards her were to ever highly over step its boundaries. He did not fear too greatly though. Juri had remarkable patience for him and he never understood why, but was happy for the favor.
He had changed already into his whites and waited patiently for her in the hall. His helmet was under his arm and the foil he was borrowing daggled loosely in his hand. He shut his eyes thinking deeply about what he wanted to accomplish in this bought. He considered the steps he should make and the moves Juri was infamous for performing. He wondered if she would stick to the disciplined rules of fencing or treat this encounter like a duel.
The light touch of her steps entering the hall gently graced his ears and he opened his eyes to behold her. She was an angel. The thought made him grimace slightly. Angels... He had seen Ruka in a similar light. But it was hard not to conjure the image especially with the way the light spilled in from the widows casting showers of golden light on her form. He supposed if he looked hard enough he could envision where her wings would be.
He wondered what he looked like to her eyes. What was he to her, a fallen prince perhaps, or a knight seeking greatness? If she was the fallen angel just as Ruka had been, what did that make him?
A slight smirk was collected at the right corner of her mouth as she looked him over, critical as always.
"I don't suppose you'll be taking it easy on me, will you?"
"I don't take it easy on anyone, even if they are sorely out of practice," she replied almost curtly, partly amused, and a touch forgiving. "Not that it matters, but how much did you hear," she asked walking towards her spot.
"And what is enough, Mr. Kiryuu?"
"So formal with me all of a sudden Arisugawa, I don't think I could apologize enough for accidentally being in the vicinity for you little conversation," he replied with a grin, continuing, "She's leaving, then, your little secret?"
Her eyes narrowed, catlike and bordering on cold.
He pulled a strand of hair back from his face and shrugged, "Some people's parents are fickle about their children's education."
"It wasn't her parents."
"I hate it when you do that. Do not try and sound righteous; I know you heard the other things she said. What do you know?"
She quirked an eyebrow.
He grinned, "Nothing, except rumors of other students with a similar problem."
"And the problem?"
"Nightmares...Honestly Arisugawa, why push me for answers when you already know them?"
She pulled her helmet on and took her fighting stance, "Let's get on with this shall we. I want to see Shiori off properly, before she leaves."
He obliged and pulled his helmet on preparing himself for the workout that was forth coming. "Right..."
There's just you and I
When the legend is over
We can look to each other
To see our way through
Just you and I
To be continue...
Author's Note: Aside from grammatical technicalities here and there I would appreciate some insight for this fic. I am not accustomed to writing Touga so I want to make sure I have in character, more precisely his manner towards the end of the series. I suppose I feel a little vulnerable about this new territory I'm straying into. Shoujo-ai fans don't worry there will definitely be better moments than what I have in this first chapter... First things first you know? ^_^ Thank you for your time.