Utena, Revolutionary Girl Fan Fiction ❯ Of Knights in Shining Raincoats ❯ Chapter 1

[ P - Pre-Teen ]

Disclaimer: Revolutionary Girl Utena and its characters were created by BePapas and Chiho Saito, and belong to them. They are used here without permission.
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It was raining, as it had done for the last three days.
Shiori had forgotten her umbrella. As she had done for the last three days.
Juri was more than a little sceptical of this. Deep in the basements of some of Ohtori's sturdier buildings, in dark, windowless rooms thrumming with the work of unidentifiable but necessary bits of machinery, it might have been possible not to hear the constant beating of water on rooftop and pavement. Perhaps the first day of the storm she could have imagined a scatterbrained student, late for class and caught up in her own worries, forgetting the weather as she dashed out her dorm-room door. But getting half-drowned once ought to have been enough for anyone -- and Shiori, Juri knew, was not nearly as scattered as she sometimes appeared.
Her sweet, soft voice echoed in Juri's memory, as it had done every day for a long time, and would probably continue to do every day, on into eternity: Believe in miracles, and they will know your true feelings.
To say that Juri was more than a little sceptical of that would have been the understatement of the year. Because she could imagine all too clearly, as she stood watching from an empty second-story classroom, that Shiori had not forgotten anything at all. That she had every intention of standing out in the cold and rain, small and woefully bedraggled, until some handsome boy noticed and offered, in a spirit of chivalry, to share his own umbrella as he walked her back to her dorm.
And she didn't think she'd imagined at all that the girl's gaze had turned upwards for a moment, wandering idly from classroom window to classroom window, until it had fallen on Juri's own location and lingered just a moment too long. But she might have been mistaken -- and she might have been mistaken, too, about the brief, almost triumphant smile which she thought had crossed Shiori's face. It was entirely possible that the rain was playing tricks on her eyes.
Believe in --
Juri's hand went, of its own accord, to her throat, searching for the locket she'd worn for so long. Lost weeks ago now, but old habits died hard. At its absence, Shiori's soft voice mocked, You should have asked, you know. I could have given you a nicer picture.
The hell with that, Juri thought, staring down at the forlorn, shivering figure alone in the courtyard. You think that you've gained the upper hand now? Only now? You had it all along, you little idiot. I would have walked through fire, if you'd asked me to, I would have--
Now? Not so much. And yet it's now you think you've won.
Well. She'd believed, once, and now Shiori knew… but she'd yet to see anything like a miracle show its face.
As for the girl's current plight, it was none of Juri's business, and it would serve Shiori right if she froze to death. Her game, if indeed it was such, wasn't going so well for her this afternoon; there didn't appear to be any knights in shining armour around just now. The rain, Juri thought cynically, had probably caused their platemail to rust. They could hardly be knights in shining raincoats instead, after all; it hadn't the same ring to it, and wouldn't have looked right -- and this game was all about appearances, wasn't it? If Shiori was hoping to be swept off her feet before Juri's envious eyes, it looked like she was out of luck.
Fine. That was fine, and well-deserved.
Except, of course, that Shiori lived on the far end of campus, and that was a long walk from here, and the weather wasn't likely to warm up, or dry out, any time in the near future.
Which was not Juri's problem in any way. She'd remembered her umbrella, after all….
She stared fixedly up at the grey sky for a long moment before muttering, quietly, "Damn."
It was a bad idea; she knew it was a bad idea. But she'd been looking out for Shiori for years… and old habits died hard.
And so she turned away from the window and walked out of the classroom at a determinedly casual pace. I expect I'm one of the last people in the world that Shiori wants to owe a favour, you know. But she could play the gracious rescuer as well as anyone could, and if Shiori turned her down because it wasn't the help she wanted, then the more fool she. Not my job to rescue her from herself.
In any event, it would either put an end to the girl's silly theatrics, or it would spare Juri from having to watch any more of them -- and the latter without any of the faint guilt that simply walking away would bring. Either way, that was a good thing.
Once down at ground-level, she paused at the building's exit for a brief moment to fish her umbrella out of her bag. Calm. Polite, but distant. In control. People say teachers have left the school because you looked at them the wrong way -- one over-dramatic teenage girl is not going to get to you.
This is a really bad idea, you know that?
She stepped out into the rain. Shiori, still huddled in the archway and scrubbing at her bare arms in a feeble attempt to dry them off, looked up hopefully at the movement, but annoyance crossed her face when she saw Juri, and she looked away quickly, her chin jerking up an inch or two in a sudden burst of stubborn pride.
Idiot, Juri thought, but as she strode forward she nonetheless raised her voice to call over the rain, "Oi, Shiori--"
But she was interrupted by another, male voice, as door opened in the side of the archway and a young man poked his head through. "Ah -- Takatsuki, right?"
In an instant, Shiori's spirits lifted visibly as she spun to face the newcomer; though her back was now to Juri, the latter could clearly picture the shy smile on her erstwhile friend's face. "Oh, you're -- Kaneda, aren't you?"
"Y-yeah." The young man looked surprised, and pleased, that she remembered his name. "You must be freezing, out in this weather without even a jacket--"
The rain drowned out the rest, and for that, at least, Juri was moderately thankful. She was about to turn and walk away when Shiori glanced back over her shoulder, as if just remembering something. "Oh, Juri, was there something you wanted?"
She met the girl's bright, innocent, malicious gaze, and said, levelly, "Nothing important."
"Oh…" Shiori tilted her head to one side. "Well, all right, then."
Kaneda made some comment, too low for Juri to hear, and Shiori giggled as she turned back to him. The two strolled off, cosy under the shelter of Kaneda's umbrella, and within seconds they were chatting and laughing so cheerfully that they might, from a distance, have been mistaken for lifelong friends.
So much for miracles.
On the way back to her rooms, Juri tossed her own umbrella in a trashcan, and thought, I'll damned well wear a raincoat from now on.