|Dancing in the Dark
Author: Alithea PM
Shoujo-ai warning. Juri has been noticing some changes in a certain pink haired prince and she takes some action to bring the girl back to her senses.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Drama - Utena & Juri - Words: 3,578 - Reviews: 14 - Favs: 9 - Published: 02-10-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2257833
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Dancing In the Dark
Author's: Note: In keeping with this sites guidelines I have removed the song lyrics that previously broke up the scenes of this story. If you would like to read thisstory with the song lyrics in it you may do so at media miner dot org . Thank you!
The characters of Utena do not belong to me I'm just borrowing.
Fine and elegant…low and boring that was her thought on school dances, because school dances tried to be sophisticated when most of the attendees wanted nothing more than to break loose, freeing themselves of the restrictions posed by uniforms, classes, and books. They wished to be wild and dance in pulses and rhythms foreign to them. They desired change. It wasn't going to come though, at least...not at this dance. This dance was like all those before it. Dressy and uncomfortable, suits for the boys with a tie that strangled, and dresses for the girls that were frilled and ruffled. The music too, was a chain of pretended adult grace, classical waltzes, and short vignettes.
No one voiced an opinion of complaint though. Everyone came to the event and everyone did as they were supposed to. Boys played prince and asked their princesses for the evening to dance. People ate the French hors devours and drank the mock champagne. It was a pretend fairy tale and all and all the panther never knew why she attended. Leaning back against a far wall (away from the crowds, the jovial pretense) Juri watched and then reconsidered. She knew her reasons for that night and it strangled at her neck even if there was nothing gracing it.
Her heart's desire, no longer so desirable, was flirting her way through the crowd, dancing with all the right people, laughing at all the right jokes, struggling to fit in and ultimately succeeding. Juri could let go easily enough but it still made her a bit melancholy to say the least. Watching Shiori pretend to be everything she was not, begging attention of those who could never really love her. Or at least not as Juri had…did, still did… She sighed.
It was a pitiful thing loving the violet-eyed girl. She did not cling so tightly any longer. There was nothing to cling to, but amid the joviality of the dance Juri had to wonder if there would ever be another she could love as much.
Hazel eyes shut briefly and then sparked open as the crowd hushed and then piqued with a low buzz as Utena Tenjou entered accompanied by the ever-present Anthy Himemiya. The princely girl was, per usual, wearing some tomboyish outfit that looked remarkably similar to her uniform. And the Rose Bride was in a dress that matched her victor's suit. Those closest to the panther began snickering interesting rumors and then there were those so blinded by the pink haired girl's sunny demeanor and charm they could do nothing but overly praise her. The couple took to the dance floor and Juri retreated outside.
It was a warm a night, which suited her fine as she sat on a marble railing and under the low intrusion of music watched the dance from the outside, perking an eyebrow as a fumbling Miki, blushing probably head to toe, asked permission to dance with Anthy. The princely girl graciously gave the two leave, only to be accosted by the student council president. Touga, it seemed, was never going to learn and Utena broke from his advances quickly enough striding off to an unknown location.
Utena Tenjou… Juri understood why Touga chased her so. She was after all a brilliant girl, attractive, bright and so… Not innocent, but naïve to the world around her, and even to herself. The girl didn't seem to recognize the longing glances people gave her. Nor did she even take into account what it might imply when she always rushed to her bride's aide.
Juri would never say she wasn't affected by that charm, because she was. That was why Utena inspired and infuriated her all at once. She had to be a prince. She had to save and salvage those around her. But there was a price to pay for always coming to the rescue. There was a curse to being a hero and Juri saw it when she lost faith in love and miracles. The price paid cut and wounded. Still the girl shined like a light never to be dulled.
After a while Juri lost interest in the goings on inside the party, her focus drifting to the night sky and the silent campus. A small pat of footsteps roused her attention. The princely girl that had been plaguing her thoughts slowly approached, bright blue eyes lost in the still of the dark sky. There was something very different about her though. The stoic angel could hardly believe she had missed it, but while Utena still appeared bright she also seemed to be fading. As if something were changing her, making her just an ordinary girl. It was hard to notice at first but here and there in the glint of the shadows, the pale and dim starlight it could be seen.
Utena's attention finally shifted and she smiled warmly when she saw Juri. The panther returned the gesture with a subtle grin.
"It's a lovely night," the pink haired girl stated, releasing a breath of relief and joining Juri against the railing, looking out across the campus.
Juri remained silent and shifted her position, resting her elbows on the rail, back to the campus, focus intent on the girl next to her. Up close it was more evident; the spark that moved Utena was dying, being quelled. She looked so much more like a girl than a prince and it bothered the auburn haired beauty to no end. It wasn't right.
Utena looked over at her, "How come you aren't inside?"
The panther let a small noise of amusement leave her, "Why aren't you?"
"Just getting some air," the girl replied cheerfully. "Besides I'm trying to give Anthy and Miki some space."
"Oh," mock surprise in the question, Juri shook her head sadly. "I thought you wanted to keep her away from us?"
The princely girl shrugged, "I fight the duels so she can be free to be herself, and Miki gave me his word he wouldn't challenge me again."
"Hmph. Bold promise…"
"Don't say that," she sounded sad. "Anthy deserves to live as a normal girl. No duels… free without worry of being treated as an object." She paused and then added almost out of necessity, "She deserves to be loved. To have a nice boyfriend who would gladly do anything for her."
Juri's jaw was suddenly set, eyes narrowed. That comment didn't sound right. "And so what are you going to do when all of us finally stop dueling?"
"What are you going to do about Anthy?"
She stood up straight, "Be her friend. Be there for her and whatever she needs. Help her… but mostly just watch her live her life."
Utena looked confused.
The panther's eyes were half shut, "Will you still go out looking for your prince?"
"Yes. I want to know who he is. I want…," she looked away sadly.
Propping herself up Juri gently stalked closer to the princely girl, setting herself almost uncomfortably close to her. Hazel eyes peering into bright and fading blue, "What do you want?"
There was a recognizable look to the fencer's eyes, one Utena had seen months ago at the fountain just before the panther tried to snatch her ring away. She swallowed hard as she felt Juri press closer, an elegant hand tilting her head upwards.
"Utena Tenjou," Juri said almost mockingly. "Do you still want to become a prince?"
"Meet me in the fencing hall after school tomorrow if you still wish to be a prince," the stoic angel stated coolly. "Come alone."
The elegant panther then took her leave. Walking back into the dance, auburn locks swaying as she went one hand in the pocket of her designer slacks and the other gliding across her neck for something that was no longer there.
Utena just stood there dumbfounded, blue eyes trying to find a reason for what had just happened. Was it another duel? What could Juri possible want with her?
She was more distracted than usual during class, thoughts of her prince and thoughts of Anthy's brother swimming through her head and making her doubt.
Akio…he treated her so kindly, like she was a princess. It felt nice to be held so closely, to be protected by an embrace. But she couldn't just give it all up could she? Just forget about her dream to be a prince. Was she even well on her way? She doubted and she wondered if it was something that a prince would do. Does a hero doubt? Does a prince waiver? Maybe… maybe a girl couldn't be a prince.
And then of course there was Juri and her mysterious request? Invitation? What was it she wanted anyway? Despite her questions she found herself at the fencing hall after school, alone and wondering.
The hall was void of the normal clatter of fencing foils and high squeak of shoes along the floor. It was completely empty save the tall auburn haired girl who waited patiently inside. Juri was standing near a cabinet; fencing jacket unbuttoned revealing a coral toned sports bra underneath, hair slightly damp from practice that seemed to have been long over. Foil dangling in her hand, hazel eyes half shut in thought. Utena made a small noise that swiftly brought the panther's attention.
"You came," it really wasn't a question or a statement.
"You wanted to see me," Utena said cheerful but wary.
"I wanted to see you only if you wished to pursue your fruitless endeavor to become a prince."
"I…" She found a way to stand her ground, "I will become a prince."
Juri sauntered over to the pink haired girl and looked her in the eyes. Searching for something perhaps, but what exactly was unknown. She frowned when she noticed something she had seen the previous night.
"You don't want to be a prince. You don't want to help others. You want to be saved."
"Don't say things like that."
"Demanding…why? It's a silly dream anyway," the panther stated firmly almost with a growl.
"I don't know what your problem is but-"
Hazel eyes narrowed, "But you don't believe in your dream. You don't deserve that ring." Juri lunged forward and grabbed Utena's hand. "Your prince gave it to you didn't he?"
Utena struggled, uttering protests that went unheard.
"Your prince if you find him will try and take this from you."
Juri managed to slide the ring off the girl's finger pushing her to the ground. Utena looked as though she was going to cry.
"See… you've already given up," Juri staggered back a few steps clear disappointment playing across her features. "How do you hope to protect Anthy if you've already given up?"
"I…I haven't given up!" Utena got to her feet. "I will be a prince and I'll protect her."
"Why," Juri demanded, "why her?"
Utena was silent for a moment before whispering, "I love her."
This caused an eyebrow to perk as the panther stalked closer to the pink haired girl, "Do you?"
She was practically nose to nose as she grabbed the princely girl's hand and forced the ring back into her palm.
"Yes," and then she faltered. "Not how you think though."
That doubt, it was coming from somewhere and really there was only one power on campus that could make a girl like Utena doubt anything. It was clear now what was being done. Clear the game being played and Juri wanted to laugh for being such an obedient pawn, but how to fix it?
"How do I think you love her," Juri asked still a little too close and clearly making the girl nervous.
"Like how you love…," she blushed.
And that was enough for the stoic angel. She brought her hand up to Utena's face tilting it upward, again to look in her eyes, again feeling the girl's unease, the way she was almost trembling afraid of what was to happen next. It took only a moment for her to decide on a course of action. Only a moment to bring her head down to meet with questioning lips. Remaining that way for a moment or two, not intruding, not asking, just testing the waters and waiting as Utena sank into it. She just gave in.
Juri pulled away.
"You are no prince," the panther whispered stepping back regretfully. "You've lost your drive and you're just waiting to be taken."
"What…why…why did you do that?"
A spark lit in Juri's eyes an almost vicious fire that she couldn't quell. She shut her eyes and then opened them with renewed clarity, "Utena Tenjou… I challenge you."
Utena frowned, "You really mean to duel me in that arena again."
"No," she stared the girl down icily. "I intend to fight you here. No bride, no miracles, I want to fight you. If you win I'll leave you alone. I you lose then I'll know for certain you aren't the person you pretend to be."
The panther tossed the pink haired girl a foil and then buttoned up her jacket. She decided to forego masks since the two were used to fighting with real weapons.
"You really want to do this?"
"Yes," a chilled reply, "It is you honor at stake not mine. Your beliefs and hopes…it is your own wish and miracle that are on the line."
Juri swished the foil sharply punishing the air and then charged without much warning.
The sound of metal on metal echoed through the hall. A play of unknown wills spread across the fencing hall. And the princely girl was valiant enough fending off Juri as best she could with her lack of skill.
"No bride to save you here," Juri said sharply, as began to move at a swifter pace, foil relentless and unforgiving. "Aren't you a pretty princess playing with that sword?"
Utena ignored the barbs and made a move to disarm the taller girl failing and being pushed to the ground with a light chuckle.
"Where are your miracles outside the arena? Where is your noble heart? Maybe you never had one."
The pink haired girl sprang off the floor and charged met only with a mocking chuckle and a well placed block. Swords locked together in heady force blue eyes to hazel, a question of why playing over and over in Utena's mind. Why was Juri doing this? How could she say such things? What was the point of fighting?
"Here in this arena," Juri hissed, "Dios will not descend to save you. Only those of true skill survive."
She grunted forcing Utena back and making her lose a step.
"Now tell me," Juri whispered just about ready to push the girl down again and claim victory, "Are you still dreaming of becoming a prince? You're about to lose… you give in… Without the illusion of the castle you are nothing but a girl playing at something you know nothing about. You've no idea what playing prince half way will cost you."
A strange glint was in the princely girl's eyes. Something bright that had been missing for a while and slowly very slowly she began to reverse the role and push Juri back. The fencer was surprised of course, but as she was very firmly pushed to the ground, foil stabbing against her chest, she grinned slyly. Held her hands up and tossed aside her foil.
"So…you haven't given up then?"
"No I haven't," Utena replied fiercely. "Are you satisfied now?"
"Almost," Juri said moving to her feet.
The pink haired girl seemed at a loss, but she recognized the look Juri's eyes, something of lust, and something curious like admiration and detest all at once.
She stepped back holding out her hand, "Juri…I'm not like that."
"Oh," Juri smirked and backed the girl against a wall. Leaning in to take up a kiss she had moved away from earlier. Pulling back to take a breath and say, "Tell me that again and mean it."
Silenced before she could protest fully again and she didn't understand why she didn't fight back. Why she allowed the kiss to continue and stranger still why she leaned into it, and attempted to control it. In the back of her mind wanting it to continue forever because it made her feel different than the kiss she'd received from Akio or even her prince. And it reminded her of something she felt when Anthy was near… her mind went a bit hazy as a graceful hand slid up to her chest slowly pulling back buttons and the steady realization that somehow she had already made short work of Juri's fencing jacket. Her hands already pushing the panther's coral sports bra up, touching upon the sweat covered flesh, caressing it in ways she didn't know she was capable of.
The panther's breath caught as Utena removed her lips from hers, bringing them to the hollow of her neck as she managed to switch the roles so that Juri was the one up against the wall.
It was a strange thing to fight the pull of such lust and the things it could teach, because even as their lips and tongues continued to meet Utena could feel the lessons. They felt vaguely familiar to one she wanted to forget. There was power in the control she held over the stoic fencer, and even her naïve mind could sense how lost in want the panther had become. So she pulled away, and sadly watched the look of utter despair over take Juri at the loss of contact.
"I can't do this," she whispered, "I… can't do this with you."
"Why," it was a question asked though the answer was painfully clear, but she needed to hear the reason aloud.
"As I thought...," and she did not know why she felt so disappointed at the rejection, because she had not really meant for things to go so far. And a there was a familiar sting she felt in her heart that she sought control over, because it was hope for something utterly hopeless.
There was a strange silence that engulfed them and seeing the confusion in the girl's eyes, but noting the spark of brightness that remained Juri corrected the disheveled state of her top and then casually bent down to pick up a foil. She stepped towards Utena and handed it to her.
"Don't question, just take the foil," Juri said quickly trying not to bark the command too harshly. "Now we will duel and if you win you never have to worry about me challenging you ever again."
"And if I lose?"
"You will meet me here every evening until you can beat me."
"What about the duels?"
"Then you can come meet me here after you duel. There are not many left, but I promise you, you'll have beaten me before you reach the last one."
"I don't know," she admitted. "I only know that this is necessary."
"And if I say 'no'?"
Juri released a sigh, "I'm forbidden from disclosing anything I know to you. We all are, though I would like to think there are those of us who want you to know just what it is your quest will lead you to."
The princely girl seemed confused for a moment and then she smiled as if something had occurred to her that never had before, a strange lesson taking hold in her mind, another test that had been completed, "No thank you Juri."
"I do believe in my wish Juri I haven't given up. I will be a prince and when I do become one I will meet the prince who saved me," there was undeniable conviction in the words and that light, that brightness that seemed to grow as she smiled, "Thank you, Juri."
"Why thank me?"
"For your help."
"You are so like her sometimes," she whispered.
"Are you satisfied?"
The fencer nodded and watched as Utena left the hall. Her finger tips played over her lips where the kisses the two had shared still lingered. She had wanted certainty. She had wanted proof beyond all else that the girl was what she claimed to be. She shut her eyes and oddly the scent of roses lingered in the air around her.
And in that moment she knew… because in that moment she truly believed.
"Tenjou, Utena," she whispered to the emptiness, "Don't disappointment me."