Series: Utena
Pairing: Juri x Kozue
Rating: PG-13
Written: 30 April 2005

It was a night, much like all nights are. Calm, quiet, and cool, with the hint of rain in the air. She paced the grounds of the cage that they all lived in, and had anyone chanced to see her, they would have quickly gone the other way. But there was nobody else out, because all of them were too meek, too tame to go out at night, when the rules said all people should be securely locked away.

She laughed to herself, and it was a throaty laugh like gravel over silk, a laugh that lacked some essential quality of humanity. Yes, humans were to be locked up at night, but she was far from them. She was a wild creature and the night suited her as nothing else did. Certainly more than this beautiful garden. Wild things don't belong in gardens, but here she was, so she made the best of it. She dominated everyone so that she could keep them away from her, frightened them into leaving her be and ignoring it when she could no longer resist the need to indulge in her more animalistic needs.

But she hadn't come out into the night to contemplate those things. Rather, she'd come out into the cool, sweet darkness to contemplate when her life had gone so horribly off track. She'd been seduced by the peace of the Garden, somehow, and lost herself in the flutter of a butterfly's wings, and before she knew it she'd been trapped, caged up and tamed like the rest of the school. But here, in the night, she found peace.

Bugs don't like the darkness, so they throw themselves on the nearest light and cling to it as they die. She wanted the bug to die, somewhere deep inside herself. But somehow, she couldn't bring herself to wield her light in such a way, and so the bug continued to live and to hurt her. She stopped suddenly, finding herself staring out at the water in the same place where she'd thrown away her locket, what seemed like centuries ago.

She heard footsteps behind her and smirked slightly. The tame things were peacefully sleeping now, and the crownless king who had thought himself a wolf had long since been toppled by the girl in the prince's clothes... all of which meant that only one other person could be out at this time of night.

"Kozue." she spoke softly, her voice rich and throaty, and didn't turn to look at the younger girl. The footsteps continued until she felt a presence at her elbow.

"Juri-san." The girl replied in a voice that would have been smug or flirty, if only there hadn't been that faint undertone of a predatory growl to it.

"You're out late." Juri observed, still staring at the dark water.

"I like the darkness."

"You would."

"Oh?" Kozue's tone was definitely smug then, as she looked up at her stoic companion, "And why would you think that, Juri-san?"

"Because you're like me."

"Like you? Like you how? Am I a seitokai member, now? Or perhaps a fencer? Maybe I'm a wild animal. How am I like you, Juri-san?" Kozue smirked, and Juri looked at her for the first time, her head turning slowly, almost as if her body was fighting her control.

"Don't do that." Her voice was tight and her hand twitched, aching to reach for the locket that she no longer wore. It had been a dream, and the dream had long since become something closer to a nightmare, so she had thrown it away.

"Do what, Ju-ri-sa-n?" Kozue stretched out Juri's name, each syllable dripping sex or perhaps just challenge, the final sound cutting off in a soft snap of her teeth. If Juri hadn't been who and what she was, she probably would have blushed at the fierce wave of arousal that ran through her.

"Don't say my name like that." Kozue moved a little closer to Juri, until she could feel the delicious warmth radiating off of her body.

"Like what, Juri-san?"

"You say it like you want me. Stop it." Juri's teeth were clenched and she looked away again, out over the water. She didn't move away.

"Why, Juri-san? Because you belong to the little poison butterfly?" Kozue's voice turned cold and harsh, "She's worthless and you know it."

"Stop it, just stop it! I...I..."

"You love her, is that it? You love Shiori." Kozue's voice was sharp, almost acidic, as she hissed out the butterfly's name. It was so well suited to being hissed. It sounded like a fearful, cowering snake, threatening everyone who came near and killing everything that got too close. Her voice raised then, in anger, frustration, and something else, something that she didn't care to name. "Well she doesn't love you! She's using you, taming you, and showing you off like a trick pony in a carnival. When did the world turn upside down? Wild things can't be tamed by insects, poisonous or not." She took a deep breath as she finished her speech, forcing the angry flush from her cheeks.

"Love tames. Who's to say that I didn't choose to be leashed?" Juri's voice was calm on the surface, but the tension in her was there, stronger than ever. Kozue just snorted.

"Love doesn't tame. Fear tames. Fear locks you in a little gold cage and smiles and tells you that it's love and that you don't want to be free anymore. Love runs wild and fierce and free in all directions and howls its joy to the moon. It lives in the deep forests and hunts, it is ragged and beautiful and perfect. What you have with her isn't love."

"It's close enough, then."

"Nothing is ever 'close enough', Juri." She left off the honorific on purpose, reminding Juri that despite the difference in age, they were equal when they were like this, in the darkness and the wild. "Nothing will ever fill that hole in your chest." Juri looked at her again, and this time those deep, beautiful eyes were narrowed in a glare.

"Why do you even care? It has nothing to do with you."

"Why? Because these days, you and I are the only wild things left in this place. Besides, I've always wanted to run with a panther." She smiled slowly and stared out at the water, thinking thoughts best kept to herself, at least for the time being.

"I don't run anymore," Juri said softly, ever the strong and stoic angel as she looked off into the distance, at nothing. But her voice was sad and tired. "I'm exhausted, crippled, and tame. Why do you even want to run with me?" Kozue was silent for a moment, and when she spoke, her voice was thoughtful.

"I think...that I want to see my reflection in you. I'm a wild thing, everyone knows that and they're all fascinated by it. Boys flock to me, and girls too, even though they'll rarely admit to wanting me. Even my pure, precious brother wants what I am, somewhere deep down. But what I don't know is...what kind of wild thing am I? Am I a wolf, cunning and cruel, or a cat, sleek and beautifully dangerous? A bird, maybe, snatching what I want from high above? I don't know. I think that you can help me find out." She stepped out in front of Juri, and those glimmering crystal eyes found themselves pulled into the whirlpool of her gaze.

"How...how is it that you know what love is?" Juri asked softly, unconsciously stepping forward until she was towering over Kozue, their bodies not quite touching.

"Because..." Kozue moved forward quite deliberately, pressing her body against Juri's, "Because I have someone that I love, and those are the feelings I have about her."

"You have a lover?" Juri's voice was getting breathy, and her hands found their ways to Kozue's hips without her consent, "What kind of wild thing is she?" A perfectly manicured hand found its way to the back of Juri's neck, tugging her head down.

"Oh, the most lovely wild thing ever. She's a panther."

"Oh..." was the last thing out of Juri's mouth before her lips met those below her and she finally learned the true meaning of what it was to be in love, and that truth was at least as wild a thing as the two who shared it. Juri's teeth found the column of Kozue's throat, and with a breathy gasp, it was begun. What they did was love in its truest sense, a leopard and her lover mating with all the fire and ferocity of life... and it was beautiful.