It was as if nothing had happened before. Almost.
The memory of that betrayal, of those stinging words she'd said, all of that had faded, the way dreams, even nightmares, do sometimes once you start to awaken fully. Regardless of how tightly they'd grasped you when you were intwined in them.
Sparring with Miki, flashes the distilled emotions that had accompanied memories long gone rushed through her mind. Usually they only came to her in the semi-concious moments before sleep, and were clouded, hazy. During the day she usually made sure she never thought such things.
Her partner's foil tapped her chest, just below the collarbone.
"Touch! Point to Kaoru." A chorus of cheers from his admirers mingled with the disappointed groans from hers.
"Senpai?" Juri could feel his eyes on her through the mask.
When you practice with someone as often as she had with him, it makes you that much easier for them to read.
Miki's eyes weren't the only ones Juri could feel. Out there. In the crowd. She was watching, too. What kind of expression was on her face?
Being around her... it was like static building up when you shuffle across a rug in your socks.
Her eyes half-closed and head thrown back slightly in laughter, sunlight gleaming off her dark hair, the smell of her perfume that poisoned the air around her. Was she just teasing? And when their hands brushed against each other briefly while walking side-by-side, was that really accidental?
And suddenly, Juri found herself able to pick out her voice from the crowd. Juri-senpai, go. Ganbatte. You are a panther, ready to spring upon your prey. You are a prince on a valiant steed, defending your princess. Ganbatte. You are my prince.
They began the next round. She lunged.
"Touch! Point to Arisugawa."
Believe in miracles... and they will realize your true feelings.
Believe, and leave yourself open. Vulnerable.
Believe, and be free.