by !Super Cat
Miki stood in front of the Student Council President's mansion. He had a note clutched in his hand, and he was here to deliver it, not to admire the building, but he found that his gaze was drawn blankly upwards and when he looked up, the facade of the Student Council President's mansion instantly expanded, accordian-like, stretching itself up into the sky. Clouds floated around its top, and birds chirped, distantly. Miki looked back at the door.
It was four fifty seven.
The Student Council President had kendo practice at five, which meant he wouldn't be home, which meant that Miki could knock, leave his note and return to his dormitory. Which meant that after a good night's sleep and time away from the Student Council President, he would stop worrying so much about the duels and Himemiya Anthy.
He raised a small fist to knock, paused when he saw the ornate door chime, reconsidered, and after a silent hesitation he reached out and tugged on it sharply. Dissonant clangs made him squeeze his eyes shut tightly, but he opened them again soon after. He decided to wait three minutes. That would bring the time to five o'clock. And then he would have politely waited three minutes for Touga, who was clearly not home, and he could step back and say, "Oh, I must have missed him. He's not home. I'll leave this note."
He timed it with stopwatch precision. Three minutes. Click.
"Oh. He's not home," said Miki, stepping back from the door. "I must have missed him. I'll leave this--"
It took Miki so much by surprise that he blurted out, "Student Council President!"
Touga stood in the doorway, a forearm leaned against the jamb. His voice was unmistakable, sensual and beguiling; like a drug, it caused confusion and capitulation. It was very, very bad for people, Miki was sure, like Touga's blue eyes. Like his long, dark lashes that, when lowered, had the ability to make people do anything that Touga wanted them to. "You sound surprised. Weren't you expecting to see me?"
"It's just--I don't want to be any trouble. I only came to--to--"
"If you're looking for your sister, Miki, she hasn't been here since last night."
Miki said, "No, I--"
Miki's eyes grew wide, and suddenly he felt stupid, the same way he had felt two days ago, walking naively into the music room, only to find his sister Kozue exiting, warmed and breathless, and Touga glancing up and greeting him lazily while he did up the last of the buttons on his shirt.
"Don't worry. I told you--you're much prettier than she is," said Touga, and Miki's eyes got wider and his blush hotter. "When you knocked, I was just thinking that about you."
"I should go--"
"I like thinking about you."
"I only wanted--"
"Nanami's out for the evening," said Touga. "We'll be all alone in the house. Just you and me, Miki."
"--to leave this note--"
"Why don't you come in anyway?" said Touga, and Miki, trembling, felt his hand squeeze shut on the piece of paper. It crumpled. It crumpled into nothing and he babbled something, an excuse, something, it didn't matter what he said, just that it was urgent, a stream of words, can't, won't, doesn't matter.
He turned and fled.
"So. It's you."
Saionji was not pleased. He stood on the balcony that served as the meeting place for the Student Council, an unlikely ship's figurehead, the school grounds and the duel forest rolling out like distant waves beneath him. His mood was as cold and solid as the darkest parts of a stormy, green ocean. It was five days, precisely, since he'd lost his second duel to Utena.
"You've been skipping classes," said Touga. "We have practice in half an hour. I take it you're skipping that as well."
"I don't feel like sparring with you today." Saionji's brows didn't lift out of the frown. "Your arrogance is just going to get on my nerves."
"Yes . . . people do say that when the captain of the kendo club loses two consecutive duels to a girl in junior high, he loses his confidence, too."
"Be. Quiet." The growled imperative hit the edge of civilized.
"Heard what?" He said it, then was angry with himself. He'd intended blank silence from the moment he saw Touga coming towards him across the long distance from the elevator to the edge of the balcony.
"Miki is the next challenger."
"Miki?" said Saionji. His mind produced a simple response while the rest of his body experienced the shock.
"Oh? You hadn't heard that?"
No. No, he hadn't heard that. What he had heard, he had ignored; the whispers, the rumours, but now they were playing out in his head, over and over, a splash of red and Touga's voice tasting the boy's name.
"This matter hasn't been discussed by the Student Council!" said Saionji.
"You haven't been attending Student Council meetings lately." Touga held up a letter that had presumably appeared from nowhere, his sleeve, or a hidden pocket in his jacket. It was sealed with thick, red wax. "I can understand your surprise . . . you've held yourself aloof from Miki. But he's more than just a popular bishounen. When it comes to fencing, he's extremely talented. He's beaten Jury."
"Fencing?" Saionji was looking at the letter with disgust. "He's only in seventh grade!"
"Let's not forget that you lost your duels to an eighth grade girl,"
Before he could swing, Touga's hand closed around his fist.
"You want my advice?" Touga said softly, expressionlessly.
"No I don't!" But Saionji let his hand be lowered. He hated himself, but it was easier to back down than take the humiliation of a punch that missed it's target. Touga never allowed himself to get hurt.
"Wait for your next letter from the Ends of the World. In the
meantime, what does it matter if Miki challenges Utena? She's a girl,
and he's in seventh grade. Neither of them are going to interfere
with the Rose Bride."
Touga's lashes lowered when he heard the word 'snake', and he smiled.
"Aren't I your best friend?"
"I don't know. Are you?"
"Of course. If you can't trust me, you're alone. You're without anyone."
"I can't trust you. There is no one."
"Isn't friendship about standing by someone forever?"
Touga smiled again, wind against his face, wind in his hair, wind loosening
the buttons of his shirt. "You know that you're my best and only
"No you're not. Actually, that's what I came out here to tell you. I have to be home by four fifty seven, so I won't be attending practice. . . "
"You came here to tell me that!"
"Of course. I know that kendo bores you when you don't have me
to challenge you." Touga stretched and began to move away.
Saionji didn't acknowledge him, though his hands tightened their grip on
the guard rail; he heard Touga's voice, getting more and more distant,
"Aren't you glad I was thinking about you?"
Miki placed the handle of the telephone very carefully back into its cradle. He had rung and rung, and there had been no answer. The Student Council President was not home. Not even Touga's sister Nanami was home. No one was home, which was perfect for Miki. An ideal circumstance for delivering what was, he believed, a very important note.
Miki let out a breath he hadn't know he was holding, and thought, It's all right. And it really was. He felt good. Clean. His thoughts were clear for the first time in days. He could look out over the bay and see the bright sunshine on the water, and marvel that only recently he had been feverish with anxiety, waking night after night in a tangle of sheets and sweat, the victim of dreams that seemed to invade his waking hours too, spreading out over the boundary between night and day like blue ink spilled on expensive new white paper.
The dreams were always about Kozue and Touga.
If he was lucky, in his dreams they would do nothing more than kiss and touch each other. But he was not always lucky; and if he wasn't, they would be pushed up against a wall and Kozue's mouth would be suckling Touga--there; and Touga would open his eyes to challenge Miki from beneath his lashes, saying:
If there's something that you want
you should just reach out and
Miki was resolved. He liked feeling this way. Clean.
Like the blue of a cloudless sky. Like fencing whites and the perfect
line of a new foil. This note was important.
The house was empty but the phone would not stop ringing. It was driving Nanami CRAZY. She wanted it to stop. She wanted it to STOP but there was no way that she would answer it. The first three calls that she had answered had all been the same, pests, insects, swarming all over her brother. How dare they? How DARE they? She was furious. She was close to tearing the phone from it's socket and smashing it against the wall. That's what I'll do if it does not stop ringing, she thought, and it KEPT RINGING.
"Touga-sama," the first girl had said. "I want you, Touga-sama . . . I'm so lonely . . . "
"This is our home line! How could you--so brazenly--on our home line!"
"Touga-sama . . . ?"
"Does this SOUND like him?"
"Touga-sama . . . do you have another girl with you?"
"This is his sister, you INSECT. I'm his SISTER!"
"Oh . . . then I don't have to be jealous . . . "
Nanami had held the phone away from her face, out in front of her in two tight hands; she was so furious that her shrill voice could still be heard loudly on the other end of the line. "How DARE you! How DARE YOU! You know what you are? NOTHING! He's got a HUNDRED of you! But he's only got one of me. Only ONE! I'm his SISTER, and I'm the ONLY ONE who's allowed to--to--NO ONE gets my brother--NO ONE!"
She had slammed the phone down, but within seconds it had begun ringing again. Another girl. And then another! How many of them were there? What gave them the right to think that they could call like this and pester her brother? It was revolting, they were like lice, like cockroaches scurrying closer in the darkness, trying to find a hold in some hidden place--they disgusted her. Did they really think they could take him away from her? Touga-sama would never care more about a cockroach than his own sister!
The phone kept ringing.
Let it ring, she thought. Let it ring FOREVER. I, Nanami, the sister of the handsome and popular Student Council President, do NOT ANSWER THE PHONE FOR LICE AND COCKROACHES!
It kept ringing.
She was going to scream.
She hated that she was too elegant and well mannered to scream.
She whirled on a wheat-coloured coat, and with sharp, angry motions
she pinned a black pin in her hair. She slammed the front door behind
her hard. And though she would hesitate, under normal circumstances,
to leave her brother alone at home on a Friday night, he was not at home,
he had kendo practice, and she had to do something, go somewhere, to get
away from that sound, that ringing, incessant, deafening sound, like a
distant buzzing of a swarm, getting louder, drawing closer, suffocating
her ears and her nose and blinding her eyes and blacking out the far off
blue of the sky--
Touga sprawled across the bed on his back, one knee cocked up, gazing at the canopy above him. Take me, the posture would have said to anyone who was looking him. Have me. His clean-cut Student Council uniform shirt and jacket were open, as though to advertise easy decadence. An invitation. I'll do anything. Touga's hand rested on his own abdomen.
He was unconscionably handsome, and he knew it. He was arrogant because he knew that when people looked into the eyes of a dream and found it gazing back at them, languorously aware of its own power, they grew so mesmerized that they wanted only to close their eyes and let dreamland take them.
There was a phone by the bed. It started ringing. Touga rolled over and pressed the button for speaker, so that he could answer without lifting the handset.
"Hello? Mayuko-chan . . . I was thinking about you," he said, tracing an absent pattern on the sheets with his fingers. "You were? About me? What were you thinking? Mm," he said after a moment. "That makes me want to see you again. Thursday. Yes, I know the place. Himemiya Anthy tends the roses there. She is, isn't she. Of course. For you. For you, anything."
The call ended. Touga let his mind wander. He glanced back at the phone when it started ringing again, and he keyed the speaker again, eventually.
"Ai-chan . . . I was thinking about you," he said, lying on his back
once more, his fingers straying across his chest. "Oh, I'd love to.
Thursday, Ai-chan, I've made plans. But I'll break them if you like
. . . break them for you. Yes, I am, aren't I? Friday is perfect.
I look forward to it . . ."
"Keiko-chan . . . I was just thinking about you," said Touga, playing with a strand of his long red hair. "I'm glad you called. Yes. Yes, I had heard that about Saionji, but not . . . " He trailed off, then laughed. "Keiko, the only girl in the house at the moment is Nanami. Wednesday, I'd love to. Well, all brothers are devoted to their little sisters, but . . . Until Wednesday, then . . . "
Touga sighed and stretched out. He would have to get up soon, fasten his clothing, smooth out his hair. It wasn't long before he would be buttoned from head to toe in the shining white and gold of the Student Council President's uniform, and when he was, he would go out, only stopping to knock on Nanami's door.
Good looks ran in the Kiryuu family. Nanami's hair was the colour of faded wheat. Her face was a perfect oval, and her features were petite except her eyes, which were blue, and much larger than her brother's. At times she looked like a particularly vicious preying mantis; at others she looked like the most beautiful girl at Ohtori Academy.
"I'm going out for a while. If the phone rings for me, answer
I'm writing this note to explain that I--
Miki paused, frowned and scratched a line through those words. Then he tore that sheet of paper from his notebook, and threw it away and began the letter anew.
Student Council President, please accept my apologies for the fact that I--
Another line, another torn sheet, another piece of scrunched up paper tumbling into the waste basket.
Unfortunately, I must advise you that I--
The basket was filling up with paper.
I leaving a note, because I can't tell you in person, because if I see you, it will all fall apa--
This is what he wrote:
I won't duel for the Rose Bride. The Rose Bride has her own thoughts and feelings, and no matter how much I want to keep the precious parts of her life safe, I cannot participate in a system that ignores a person's personality.
I'm delivering this note because I know that if I see you in person, you will change my mind. You won't mean to, but winning the duels and possessing the Rose Bride is a dream, and whenever I'm around you, dreams take over and I find that I don't want to wake up.
Please, it's important that I do not change my mind.
I am resigning from the Student Council.
Folding the paper neatly, Miki noted that it was ten past four. The Student Council President had kendo practice at five, which meant that he wouldn't be home, which meant that after a good night's sleep and time away from the Student Council President, Miki would stop worrying so much about the duels and Himemiya Anthy.
But a doubt nagged at him.
Touga and Jury treated him as an equal, and despite his chronological age, Miki was used to thinking of himself that way. As an equal. As a Student Council member, dressed neatly in blue and white and gold. But now, holding the note in his hand, Miki had the vague, unformed sense that Touga was somehow ahead of him, beyond him. Maybe all of this was beyond him. Maybe being part of the Student Council was like surrendering the ground forever and falling away into the depthless blue of the sky.
He decided to ring first, because this was important, and it was best to make doubly sure, wasn't it, that the President wouldn't be home.
He picked up the phone.
"You're still here?"
"We need to talk."
"Officially, or unofficially?"
"Officially. In a time of crisis, the Student Council must look to it's President, and the President should think only of the needs of the Student Council."
"Crisis?" Touga mildly raised his brows.
Jury returned her gaze the orange horizon and watched the sun sink a little lower in the sky. Her Student Council uniform lent her a sharp sophistication and an almost military air. It combined with her female figure and rich golden hair to make her appearance confronting and difficult to categorize. Stylish? Womanly? Beautiful? Cold? Jury was aware that she was the Council member furthest removed from Touga's sphere of influence. She had been a Council member forever, and she had known Touga for some time, though he could still surprise her occasionally with his arrogance and the perfection of his calm. She approved of the latter. She was unhurriedly waiting to see whether the former was justified.
She elaborated. "Miki's intention to motion at the next meeting that the Student Council be disbanded." Miki had shocked them all with the announcement. No, that wasn't true. He had not shocked Jury. Her information had hinted that something like this might happen, especially considering several important factors, including who Miki's sister was currently dating, and how Miki had begun to feel about the Rose Bride.
He had not shocked Touga. He had not shocked Saionji, because when he had made the announcement, Saionji hadn't been there.
Touga let his head fall backwards to rest on the high back of his chair, hair spilling over the edge, eyes closed in a kind of divine unconcern. "That motion won't get a second."
"Saionji might second."
"Saionji hasn't been attending Student Council meetings lately."
"You're willing to bet the future of the Student Council on Saionji's delinquency?"
Ah. Something. The glittering reappearance of the blue of Touga's eyes. "I don't need to. Miki may have expressed dissatisfaction, but he won't make a formal motion."
"You can be sure of that?"
"He might resign. What if he does? That would be just as damaging to the Council."
"He won't resign."
"You can be sure of that?"
"How can you be sure?"
Touga only smiled and said, "In a time of crisis, the Student Council
looks to it's President--and the President thinks only of the Council,
Every sequence has a beginning.
The sound came first, the clear though not intrusive ping that announced that the elevator had reached the top floor. Ornate guard doors rolled open with a rattle and a clang, and then Touga stepped forward and looked around himself at the endless expanse of the observatory.
After a brief hesitation, he walked in, calmly, casually, like an owner surveying property. His footsteps echoed clearly, a solitary sound, as though the rooms that housed the Chairman of the Board of Trustees were empty. They looked empty, but Touga was far too experienced to trust the evidence of his vision.
The view drew him over to the large open balcony, where he paused. It was glassed off. You couldn't go outside directly, but you could look out at the entire world. In the distance he could see the bay. In the foreground he could clearly make out the school buildings, including the familiar facade of the Student Council President's mansion. The duel arena was out there somewhere too, in the darkness, and it took someone like him to find that comforting.
It started happening. He felt hands sliding about his waist, and the warmth of a body pressing in behind him, and he sighed and pushed backwards, a provocative, simulated little rut while his back arched and he let the grip on him become painful.
"Thinking about me?" said the voice in his ear, low pitched and very soft.
"Yes." It was raw and involuntary as he was turned, his shirt and jacket spread open; warm air touched his belly and chest, and a mouth found his throat.
He thought that his heart would stop if he heard the sound, the ping that would mean the elevator doors had opened and someone else had stepped into the observatory. He knew what they'd see if they did: every single rule regarding staff and student conduct being shattered--though the Trustee Chairman and the Student Council President would prove very dangerous opponents to anyone who tried to take them down with slander. They were the rule makers, and this had been going on for a very long time.
Besides, no one came.
No one ever came.
The mouth moved lower and latched on to a nipple. Touga gripped on tightly, his hands fisting hard in pastel hair. He wanted something. He never got exactly what he wanted. He would always wake in the morning remembering a strange violence of passion, but he'd find his body free of marks, as though the night before had never been.
The shutters dropped closed on the window to the world, and Touga was pushed up against them. Like one heavily drugged he found that his actions were becoming treacherously submissive; and sometimes he hated that it felt so good, and sometimes he thought about struggling, though he'd never do it, and sometimes he would find his eyes wet when it happened, his lashes lowered, silver ribbons on his cheeks while he wondered what it was that had made the tears come. They were excessive and unnecessary, as after all he knew that he always walked out of this place as beautiful as he walked in.