Utena, Revolutionary Girl Fan Fiction ❯ A Tale of Two Princes ❯ Sleep Induced Roots: Valerian ( Chapter 2 )

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

Title: A Tale of Two Princes
Chapter 2: Sleep Induced Roots: Valerian
Rating: PG-13
"Dazed, Beautiful, and Bruised"by Catatonia
Shoujo-ai Content
Utena and its character do not belong to me. I am just borrowing.
I've got my work cut out with you
You tore bits out of me
Your carpet burns and bruises blue
Are there for all to see
Juri Arisugawa had always hidden her feelings. Even when she was a little girl, she kept a slight distance between herself and those that were around her. It was hard for her (especially in those rare moments when she really wanted to) to show someone exactly how she felt about them. It was difficult, but she could not let another day pass in her life without getting one thing off her chest and freed from the heavy walls she had built around her heart for protection. The walls were always more useless than she realized, and often caused her more harm than good. They were there out of long habit and she doubted they could ever be completely broken away. But she had to try, for this one thing, this one moment, she had to try.
It was very dark near the dorms she was going to. When she entered them it seemed that most of the students were tucked away and only the sound of her footsteps echoed down the corridors. She walked steadily up a flight of stairs and then turned down the hallway towards the room of Shiori Takatsuki. A girl she had once loved, her secret, her burden and chain, a girl that was in some light very cruel, and in others so very fragile.
She stopped at the door and her breath held for a second longer than she had liked. She remembered that cutting day when she had arrived after what had happened with Ruka. She didn't understand why it haunted her so, but it was forgiven. It was one of those things they had worked out once the prince had left. It was the past.
She knocked and after a beat the door opened slowly, violet eyes peering up into hazel.
The girl smiled, "Juri, what are you doing here?"
The stoic fencer swallowed down the large pit of fear that sat in her throat and replied, "I... I had wanted to speak with you before you left. I mean, really speak with you... A-a proper goodbye."
Shiori's face contorted in confusion and then worry, but she opened the door wide and ushered her friend inside. The door shut with a purposeful silence.
The room was not littered with boxes as one might have expected, but instead there were a few large suitcases. The walls were bare of decoration and the desk completely clear save a small picture frame, the contents of which could not be clearly seen.
"It isn't really goodbye, Juri. I'll write. I promised-"
Eyes shut and then opened, the young woman known as a panther made herself stand up straight. She placed a gentle hand on the petite girl's shoulder and said very softly, "I need to tell you some thing, and I need to do it now or I never will."
The girl looked towards her desk, to avoid eye contact. Her manner was worn and terribly sad. It must have been the dreams. The nightmares had kept her from sleeping, Juri knew that much, but not everything. She did not know the exact contents and while she would never want to pry she hoped that one day the girl would tell her what it was that haunted her so.
The panther sighed.
After the prince had left it had taken some trying for her to even consider speaking to Shiori outside the safe realm of the fencing hall. It took even longer for her to give in, and find a way back into a friendship with the girl. Still, they were only mildly causal friends, and still, there were things they just could not confide to each other (all dreams and lockets, letters and jealousy), but she had to do this. It nagged at her insides, and she had been so prepared to have the conversation at the fencing hall, but then she couldn't. She knew someone was listening, and even if it was Touga, she could not afford to have anyone but Shiori hear the words she wished to speak.
"Your hand is trembling," the girl whispered somewhat shocked finding a way to look in the fencing captain's eyes.
"Is it?"
It was, slight, and lightly, but still, it was. She withdrew and held her hands in loose fists by her sides, and doing so felt the tremble sneak up through her body. She would have to force herself to speak when all she wanted to do was retreat completely and mutter a curt farewell. Her shoulders rolled forward and her gaze dropped to the floor. She hated the color of the carpet, and chided herself for thinking trivial things at such a pivotal moment.
"Juri, what is it," genuine worry in a small and light voice. Genuine concern in eyes of violet that matched the girl's hair, that went so well with her pale skin.
"About the locket-"
"Not that, you don't have to bring that up, it isn't important anymore...not to me."
"But it was important to me," she said quickly and stepped forward, gracing her palm to the girl's face.
Shiori closed her eyes and leaned into it, "Please, Juri... You don't have to say. Between you, and I, and that locket we managed to ruin a perfectly good friendship that we still don't have back. I mean, I...I was so... but you forgave me, didn't you?"
"Yes. I did, but could you forgive me? We've talked about this before."
"We have," a tear began to make its way down her cheek and her teeth clenched together as Juri wiped it away with her thumb. "But please... don't tell me...don't, I-"
"It was you. It was always you."
Shiori pulled violently away and stared the panther down. There was hatred in her eyes that slowly ebbed away as she began to cry more. She tried to escape from, but eventually succumbed to Juri's slow embrace.
"I-I am sorry."
She sniffed and shook her head, "Oh Juri, you don't understand... I... He told me. I already knew." She wrapped her arms up tight around the fencer's waist and then whispered, "I didn't want to believe him, but I knew it was true."
The young woman was almost white with terror. The petite girl moved out of the embrace and ushered her friend over to the bed, making her sit. She put her hands on her friend's shoulders and looked deeply into her hazel eyes.
"When he and I broke up-"
"Ruka, you bastard," was the interruption.
"Listen to me, Juri, please."
"Fine," she let the word out as a long sigh. Her focus dipped down to the floor again and she shut her eyes.
"When he dumped me, he told me. It took near forever to stop being mad at you. I thought it was so disgusting, but listen, because this is very important...look at me," her tone was gentle; it was an odd thing to experience. "It took a long time for me to crawl out of myself after that. But I found something deep inside when it was all through, and that made it possible for me to even dare tryout for the fencing team."
"What was it?"
"Love. I love you Juri, but not- Not the way you would have wanted me to. I can't."
Juri looked up and grimaced, "I'd be kidding myself to expect you to have returned my feelings. Why do you think I hid them from you?"
She wiped her eyes dry and smiled, "Because you're stubborn Miss Arisugawa, very, very stubborn."
The stoic fencer stood up and took a deep breath, "The color of your carpet is horrid, you know?"
The petite girl shook her head and tried not to giggle.
"I will miss you."
"But... you are going to write me, so it'll be like I never left the next time I see you. Spare me no details."
A light auburn eyebrow perked and she could not help but grin. "Not one detail?"
"You know what I mean... Juri?"
"Hmm?" she was about to head toward the door.
"I'm glad you finally decided to tell me. I mean despite my asking you not to... Thank you, for trusting me with that."
"Perhaps, one day, you too, will be able to trust me with something."
It was a cutting remark that did not mean to be, and Shiori caught it and held it for a second before letting it go. She could not share her nightmares, they hurt too much. She didn't want to think about what it meant. The dreams went too... too deep.
With a slight nod Juri took hold of the doorknob and walked out of the room. She felt lighter, and yet she was still troubled. She hoped that her friend would find solace at her new school. She hoped, and the hope was so real she wondered what it meant.
What was it to hope? Wasn't it just a dream without sleeping, a wish without a star or a well?
Outside of the dormitory in the cool hush of the night she found herself doing what she never wanted to do again. She prayed for a miracle.
But I can tell, you've been through hell
Finally you wear it well
It's an accessory
Juri's trip back to her dorm room was intruded by the lingering figure of the Student Council President outside of the building. He was leaning against a wall, arms neatly folded over his chest. He looked up as she neared, deep blue eyes questioning.
"Have a date, or is this just a happy coincidence," she asked briskly, as her deep and elegant stride carried her closer to the doorway.
"I just wanted to see how your last encounter with that girl would fair. By the look of things, it went well."
She quirked an eyebrow, "I mentioned it before, but you used to be a better liar, Kiryuu. What do you want?"
He shrugged casually, smiling as he replied, "Not a thing, I was just curious about your friend."
"I don't know what her dreams are about."
"I can't put anything past you, can I? I didn't think you would."
"Why are you so concerned about these dreams?"
He stood up straight and began to walk away, "No reason."
She tried very hard to control her temper but found she could not. She spun on her heels and walked after him, tapping him viciously on the shoulder until he turned to greet her. When he finally did, she slapped him so hard across the face he had to take a step back a few paces.
"That, is for acting like pig headed male who thinks I shouldn't be involved. I do not need protecting and you are the last person on this campus I ever thought I would have to explain that to. Or do you need to bested in the dueling arena for that to get through to you? You didn't fair too well against me this afternoon when I was playing by the rules of the sport. You wouldn't last very long once I left those rules forgotten."
He rubbed his hand on his cheek and grinned. It had been ages since she had given him a lecture like that. The last was long ago, before the duels just after Ruka had left. He cleared his throat and replied still smiling, "I haven't been hit that hard since Tenjou left." He opened his mouth wide to stretch his jaw and then he chuckled, "I think if you had hit me just a little harder you would have dislocated my jaw."
Her eyes were dark and she was clearly not amused. It was not something she enjoyed, lashing out in a rage. It was hardly fitting to her normal stoic cool, but she was the panther after all, some violence was to be expected on occasion.
"You really want to take this mystery on, Arisugawa? Is it really prudent for us to even pry about it?"
"Stop asking stupid questions. What do you know?"
"Oh no, ladies first," he said. "I know you have a little information to share."
Her body relaxed and she sighed, almost immediately forgetting her anger. He was a jerk sometimes. He could be a complete ass in her opinion and her anger stemmed from a feeling that he was daring to behave like Ruka had. (She missed Ruka. She had liked him. He had been a good friend but he wanted too much of her that she could never give. He wanted to protect her from his feelings, his illness and that she could not abide. She did not need to be coddled. She needed to feel like he trusted her. And she supposed she could have done a much better job granting the same thing to him.) She considered for a moment that, that was not Touga's immediate intention. He pushed the buttons he knew would get a reaction so as to better gauge the situation. He wanted to know if it was something really worth pursuing. She hoped her reaction gave him the answer he wanted, and she hoped, for his sake, that he never tried anything that foolish again. It was never a wise thing to be on her bad side. History proved she knew how to hold a grudge.
"Shall we go inside then? I'll put on some tea," she stated with the last of her rage cooling into a soft ember.
He nodded and they began to walk back to the dorms.
A small chuckled left his throat as they reached the door, "You know if things keep up like this people will start to talk."
"Oh, will they?"
"They'll whisper rumors about our sordid romance in the halls. Too bad we can't actually make the rumors truth."
Juri opened the door and held it while the redheaded playboy stepped through. As it closed she stated quite matter-of-factly, "Kiryuu, there are enough rumors in this school about me that are already true enough. I think some false ones would liven thing up a bit, don't you?"
He gave her a strange sideways glance and she merely smiled in away that could almost be described as cute, but was just perhaps a little more on the devious side.
Between the lines I'll think you'll find
Lessons learned from value's eyes
Beauty can turn sour
They spoke of nightmares and dreams, while sipping an excellent blend of rose tea that Juri had acquired from one of the small shops in the town. They sat on the floor, she leaned back against her bed, and he sat a comfortable distance away near her dresser.
Normally she would not have let him into her room, but then, she hardly let anyone in that space. They needed to speak though, and the threat of rumors aside, she really had no care over what the dorm chaperone might say or do if they were to be caught. In fact it was fairly safe to assume that the poor chaperone was more frightened of what Juri Arisugawa could do to her, then vice versa. It was an awkward fact, but even without the chairman's influence she, along with the other student council members, had an odd way of inducing the fear of God into the faculty. She was, especially, well noted for not suffering foolish educators.
Touga had just finished giving out his information and they sat in silence for along time after soaking up all the connotations. It concerned both greatly that the dreams would remain after the chairman had left the school. It spoke in a manner about his power over things, but it had to be greatly considered that it was not his power at work.
"We do not have much to go by," Juri stated, tiring of the quiet. "All we know is that about a hundred students have been having these nightmares, but only a handful of those students are actually connected with the Student Council. It doesn't really make sense."
He shrugged, "This is true, but we can not ignore the implications. You heard what I told you about poor Tsuwabuki's dreams? It was clearly a duel he was fighting. When he spoke to me, the detail he gave of the arena was near perfect."
She set her tea aside and folded her arms across her chest. After a slow beat she sighed and offered up something she previously withheld out of privacy's sake (and because of what he would put her through because if it), "Yes, the details given are undeniable. Kozue too-"
Surprise took over his cooler expression, "Kozue? You mean Miki's sister?"
She rolled her eyes and shook her head. "I haven't time for the full story, but yes, her too. I mentioned it, didn't I?"
"You did not. Did Miki tell you about her dreams?"
"No. And I would appreciate it greatly if you would stop grinning like that. She came to me, besides now that the twins are in separate bedrooms I'd highly doubt Miki would be aware of it."
He brushed back his long red hair and chuckled, "The secrets you keep, honestly, I'm shocked."
"Stop being smug."
"I will stop, maybe...If you explain to me how it is you know about her dreams, you didn't even know about your little friend's nightmares."
"If they are anything similar, which I expect they are," she paused and took in a deep almost sorrowful breath, "I'm not sure I could handle the inferences."
"Still, that does not explain-"
"There are some moments in life that eternally connect you to another person, whether you want them to or not. Let's just say, for now, that she knew she could trust me," Juri closed her eyes for a half a second and then looked over at him to ask, "Can I get you another cup?"
He waved his hands and shook his head slightly, "I'm fine. I should be leaving anyway. These nightmares...Even if they are connected with the duels; I am not sure how we would stop them."
"I agree, but... We have a choice to make right now."
He grinned, "We do nothing and observe, or get to the root of it. What would she do, the prince? I have to wonder."
"I can not say, but I know what I will do."
"You'll investigate further. You want to solve this mystery."
"I want the people I care for to be freed of their burdens, and I think you want the same."
He scoffed, "Do I?"
She stood up and he rose as well. They looked into each other's eyes for a long moment, hazel regarding blue, no longer critical, but questioning. There were a million things he could see in her eyes that he was sure she could also read in his. It was an odd moment of clarity for him. He had not felt so distantly close to someone in a long time. He held out his hand to her and she took it.
"We are no longer duelists, Kiryuu, and as such I will lend you my aid. Will you lend me yours?"
"Allies then?"
"Comrades in arms."
"Then please, as my comrade, as my friend, call me Touga."
She smiled and they shook hands.
And I dream one day I'll find
The one who lives inside my mind
They'll feel the same way too
We've all been used
Dazed, beautiful and bruised
Dazed, beautiful and bruised
To be continued...