"It's a pity your friend didn't want to join us," said Yuri as she raised her teacup. A gold ring with a purple flower crest glinted on her finger. "What did she say she had to do, again?"
Utena paused, noticing how similar the ring was to her own rose ring. She realized Yuri was waiting. "Oh, ah...well, she didn't. I thought it was kind of odd, since she seemed pretty enthusiastic at first." Wakaba had in fact even suggested the cafe in which they now sat. However, before they even got there she said she had to leave, saying that she had something important she needed to do. Utena made a mental note to talk to her later. Her attention went back to Yuri's hand. "Um..."
"I see you noticed my ring," Yuri said with a smirk, as if disregarding Wakaba's absence as unimportant. She set her cup on the saucer, then held up her hand to examine the jewelry as if for the first time. With a sideways glance, she watched for a reaction from Utena. Instead, her eyes caught Anshi's, and she winked.
"Yeah, I was about to ask. Are you a member of the student council at your school?" Utena's expression grew wary. She was surprised by the other girl's laugh. Their eyes met.
"No. Are you?" Yuri then mirrored Utena's expression. Upon seeing her shake her head, she smiled with relief. "Whew. I have to deal with them enough at home. I'd hate to deal with them here as well. I take it you're not fond of your own council members either?" Utena shook her head.
"No, I've had...troubles with them." Utena glanced uncomfortably at Anshi. Her dark skinned companion's expression was unreadable.
"The duels, right?" The question surprised her, and she looked back at Yuri. She was no longer smiling. Utena nodded.
"Yes, how did you...oh. Are you a duelist at your school?" Utena asked, interested to find someone else in her position. Now it was Yuri's turn to look uncomfortable.
"That's...complicated. The duels at Ohtori West are...different." She stared at her teacup as she swirled the tea around, watching the sediment billow. Utena leaned forward.
"What do you mean, different?" she asked. Yuri didn't answer. Instead, she stared past her. Utena turned, following her gaze. At the entrance of the cafe stood Touga and another man with white hair that she didn't recognize. She noticed that his companion's attire mirrored Touga's, except where his was white, the other's was black and trimmed in purple instead of red. His pants matched his hair, stark white. The two approached their table. "What do you want, Touga?" she asked.
"I'm showing a guest of the school around. Nice to see you too, Utena Tenjou." He smiled, and Utena's eyes narrowed, memories of her recent duels with the student council president still fresh in her mind. The white haired man nodded to Yuri.
"Hello, Lily Maiden. How convenient." He looked first at Utena, then at Anshi. "So, this is the Rose Bride..." Touga nodded. He looked back at Utena. "Which means you must be the current...husband?" he trailed off with a smirk. A gold signet ring with a purple lily crest glinted prominently on his right hand.
"I don't know who you are or what you want with Anshi, but..." Utena began, but was cut off as the newcomer produced a dark purple lily and Yuri stood.
"Josef..." she growled. He glared at her.
"Do not interrupt, Yuri. You know you have no right to contest the challenge," he barked, and she sat, looking thoroughly frustrated. He looked back at Utena, and held the flower forth. "Utena Tenjou, as a duelist of Ohtori West and a member of the student council, I challenge you to a duel for the hand of the Rose Bride." Utena looked at Touga, standing.
"He can do that? He doesn't even go to this school." She stepped between the two council members and their table. Touga shrugged.
"He has the council's consent." Utena glared at him, then looked back at Josef.
"Fine. I accept. Nobody is going to take Anshi away from me a second time." The girl in question looked up at her as she accepted the lily. The visitor grinned.
"Excellent. The duel shall be tomorrow in your dueling arena at midnight." He nodded to Yuri again. "Maiden," he said before he turned and strode to the door, Touga following in tow. Utena looked down at Anshi and smiled reassuringly.
"I'm sorry about that...I had no idea he was going to do that," Yuri spoke in a quiet, apologetic voice. Utena sat down again and smiled at her.
"It's not your fault. But...what did he call you? Lily Maiden?" She looked curiously at Yuri. "Does that mean the duelists fight over you?" Yuri shrugged, looking at Anshi.
"It's more a title than anything.I have to go to the duels, I have to give them their flowers, but I'm not the objective." She shrugged. "That's something I'm not sure on. It's supposed to be a key to a perfect world, or something like that. It hasn't happened yet, that's for sure." She frowned and looked back at Utena. "That was Josef Siwiersky, by the way. He's the current holder of the Key." Utena glanced at Anshi.
"What does he want with her, then?" she asked. Their eyes met. Yuri shrugged again.
"I don't know. I hope you win...he needs to get taken down a few pegs." She half-smiled. Utena looked back.
"Hey, I don't plan on losing, that's for sure." She looked down at her tea and sandwich. "I don't really feel like eating, now..." Utena nudged Anshi. "Speaking of which, where's Chu Chu?" Anshi shrugged and shook her head.
"I don't know. I haven't seen him all day, Miss Utena." Yuri smirked.
"Chu Chu? Wasn't that the name of your doll when we were children?" she asked. Anshi looked at her.
"No no, Chu Chu is Anshi's pet monkey...mouse...thing. He's really cute," Utena interjected. Yuri grinned.
"I see. Are we done? Well then, let's go!" declared Yuri. Utena glanced at the counter, then back, then opened her mouth to speak. "Don't worry, I already took care of the bill. C'mon, let's go! You can show me where I'm staying." Yuri smiled and rose, then drew a folded letter from her purse and handed it to Utena, who stared in surprise.
"Oh, um...this is in my building, across the hall from me," she said, then looked up. Yuri grinned.
"Great, then we can hang out and study together any time we want!" Utena smiled back, and scratched the back of her head.