Living in Exile

            The click of her soles on the dusty, cobblestone pavement was strangely muted as she walked steadily through a lesser populated portion of the Ohtori campus.  It was late afternoon as Juri Arisugawa went about her business, the sky searing a painful, bleeding gold, interjected only with long and faded wisps of cream-colored clouds.  The sun burnt harsh, black shadows across the walkways in which the student council member stepped; the sheer death-like quality of the landscape not unnoticed by the fencer.  Walking through a long outdoor corridor, she let herself reflect once more on the person she was briefly going to see.  She hadn't been able to count the time from which their involvement had ended, as hours seemed like days, felt like weeks, burned like months, and moved across her sadness like an eternity.  Another stone set upon her grave, sealing her in a silent and unforgiving ground.  In only a short while, Juri had been reborn, her hope had burned brighter than the piercing afternoon sun, and yet ultimately been extinguished once again into a cool, dead twilight.  To this moment, she wasn't sure if she regretted her entanglement with Kozue or not, but she could never be uncertain of the feelings lingering inside her.  Those, she was sure, would always remain, forever imbedded inside her. 

            Leaning back onto a wall, she closed her eyes coolly and sighed.  The other party took almost immediate notice, and followed suit; both seemingly ignored the labored breath and fierce tread of a frightened teacher running madly down an overwhelming flight of steps.

 "You wanted to talk to me?" Kozue inquired softly, eyes shut, not needing to look over.  Or perhaps just not wanting to.

"That incident last week with that teacher falling down the stairs" Juri began, her elegant voice sliding across the air with a thousand unspoken feelings, "was not an accident.  Rumor has it that he was pushed."

Kozue almost wanted to smile.  Here she thought the other would approach her for a more personal reason, but she should have guessed; Juri never once had come straight out and poured out any declarations, and she certainly didn't possess the courage to give her incredibly obvious feelings form with words.  It was all for the better, since it made it that much easier to end the game.  Just cool silence and softly closing doors; nothing messy or over-emotional.  Kozue, however, wouldn't bother to accept the fact that deep down, she wanted a scene to be thrown.  She wanted to see defiance, some unwillingness to accept the end, unwillingness to let go.  This, of course, was all hidden cleanly away by a mask of smug confidence and playful indifference. 

"According to him," Juri added," he wasn't certain whether or not it was an accident.  However, just last night, he got a phone call saying that next time, it wouldn't be just a slight accident."  Emerald eyes opened and her slim, athletic figure straightened, though her gaze still lingered ahead and not towards the other girl.  Kozue's eyes flicked over to Juri briefly, a small sneer escaping her lips. 

"How brilliant, Arisugawa-sempai," she said, the name lingering deliciously on her tongue," you seem to know everything."  How long had it been since she had uttered that name?  Much too long, something whispered, as she mentally kicked the errant thought aside.

Juri countered that statement quickly.  "There are things I don't know.  For example: why you hate this guy so."

Kozue glared at the expanse of sky ahead of her, starting to feel strangely frustrated.  "Because he's always..."

" Always..."  Juri prompted, genuine concern managing to arrogantly fill her words, causing Kozue to seethe almost instantly.

"I will never forgive anyone who disgraces Miki."  The answer came bluntly, almost angrily.

For a moment, there was silence as the fencer apparently weighed the words.  Somehow, Kozue highly doubted the other was plotting to actually instill or recommend discipline for her, despite Juri's status.  Feeling a sudden burst of anxiousness as the other young woman started abruptly walking away, Kozue took a deep breath.

            "Is that it then?"  She practically yelled, the arrogance in her voice slipping into an almost desperate tone.  She took a few steps toward the golden-haired woman as the fencer stopped in her tracks, stiffening.  The older girl didn't answer, merely clenching and unclenching her fists.  Kozue continued to let the question hang in the air, stepping more toward Juri and raising her hand to reach the other's shoulder.  Before her hand could make contact, however, Juri swung violently around, gripping the girls face fiercely in her own hands.  Kozue stood deathly still under the burning, emerald gaze as it practically threatened to devour her whole if she moved.  She clenched her teeth defiantly, gripping the taller girl's shoulders; before she could decide whether to push her away, however, she was pulled into the fiercest, most heart-wrenching kiss she'd probably ever experience.

            In one of the rarest times in all her life, Juri Arisugawa gave up.  In that moment, all the self-inflicted rules restraining her back seemed completely unnecessary and ridiculous, and in a last fit of utterly defiant passion, decided to kiss Kozue for the last time.  The word 'kiss' however, seemed to be so inept at describing it.  Juri had done nothing less than drug her fingers across her own heart, ripped the damn thing open, and shoved every bit of all her feelings right into Kozue.  Every single raking moment of repressed agony in each night they had spent was thrust inside her, whether Kozue wanted them or not.  Which she didn't.  If it was up to her, she would fight, go down kicking and screaming, and never relent until her last breath hung dead in the air.  Unfortunately, as Juri's lips conquered her own with the blunt rage of a thousand relentless wild fires, she was completely defenseless.  And in that single, lingering moment, they shined together.  Like a violent, earth-shattering crack of wild lightning, emblazoning itself into the seared, tattered ground, the force of that moment would last forever inside them.  And just like the lightning, it was over so quickly they could only reel away in painful shock.  The light, the sweltering blaze which ran wild and desperate across them, slowly disappeared, as if it were only a passing wolf running ragged into the night.           

            Kozue stepped, almost staggered, back, swearing slowly under her breath as her hands started to shake.  Juri stood affixed, eyes cast downward as she grazed her fingers against her own quivering lips.  Electricity surged thickly around them, the two only able to stand there, frightened.  It was overwhelming, perhaps too overwhelming for two who were yet, as much as they fought it, children.  And as Juri staggered away, uncharacteristically, and Kozue dropped down as her knees gave way, perplexedly out of character, something in them changed.  It shifted slowly in the dark, changing; whatever it was, whatever it would grow to be, neither could know. 

And maybe they never would.