A/N: Hi ho, another Utena drabble, Anthy-focused again. This one may actually get deleted later on, since I want to work with this scenario for a longer fic. (That is, using Ogami-whose-first-name-I-have-yet-to-come-up-with as the landlord in Anthy's apartment building post-Ohtori. Except he's actually not the landlord yet, he's the landlord's oldest son and he'll be in charge when his father retires in a few months, and his dad's kinda thrown up his hands about it 'cause Ogami's a college dropout and probably has no other options, and his little brother's on the way to becoming a doctor, and yeah. Also, he likes striped socks. Go Ogami go!) But yes, I have some other sections written in this vein, so we'll see if anything happens with those.

Am I allowed to use "you"? The guidelines say not, but it's not a choose-your-own-adventure type of fic, it's just a storytelling style.... Mm, well, time will tell.

Disclaimer: If I owned it, Utena would have come out in the last episode and confessed her undying love via full-blown makeout session. M'just sayin, is all.

You've reached the last segment in this month's Jump when you hear the crashing upstairs. It stops within a few minutes, though, and you've started rereading the better chapters when you realize that it was coming from Himemiya-kun's room. The Tsujishitas or the Nakamuras or that creepy Shinji guy who wears lipstick on the weekends, you'd ignore any sounds from their apartments - but this is Himemiya-kun, after all. You take the stairs three at a time.

The door is locked, as usual. You resist the urge to pound, and instead rap very, very gingerly. "Himemiya-kuuuuuuun? Y'all right in there?"

Silence. Finally, the door cracks open, even though you didn't hear any footsteps. Himemiya-kun looks up at you through her wavy dark bangs. You get that familiar, not totally unpleasant shiver when she meets your eyes.

"Ogami-san. Is something wrong?"

A weird laugh bubbles out of your mouth. "Nah, nah, it's just... I heard noises, and, uh...." Now that you look closer, Himemiya-kun's hair is disheveled, and there's a strange translucency to the delicate skin under her eyes. Was she crying? No, her face would be wet.... Wait. "Did you find anything about that... uh, girl? The one you're looking for? Did something bad -"

Himemiya's eyes flash. You nearly swallow your tongue.

She sighs, and then looks like a girl again, smaller than usual - as small as she actually is, because she's tiny, delicate, even if you can hardly tell sometimes. "Not exactly. It's nothing to...." She pauses. "Actually, Ogami-san, could you help me clean up?"

"Uhhh... sure." You sniff appreciatively as you enter the darkened front room. Himemiya-kun's apartment always smells like flowers, zinnias. She keeps dozens of them in vases, spread through every room.

Himemiya-kun switches on the light.

Ripped petals are strewn over the carpet. Water has been splashed onto the walls and there are puddles in the corners. Himemiya-kun walks deliberately into the middle of the room, porcelain shards crunching under her feet, and spins to face you when she reaches the center, her skirt twirling out like a dancer's and settling slowly around her knees.

You gape. "Hime- Himemiya...kun?"

There are smears of petal-blood on the ceiling.

"What happened...?"

Himemiya-kun is looking into the corners, at the broken vases, at the pattern of sunlight illuminating the ravaged flowers on the floor. Not at you. She seems to be about to speak, and inhales several times, but doesn't say anything for a long while. Finally, she shakes her head and goes to the cabinet under the kitchenette sink to fetch a broom and dustpan.

The two of you are halfway through clearing away the mess before she finally speaks. "Where I... used to live," she says, hesitating uncharacteristically between every word, "I grew roses. They were beautiful... perfect... they smelled wonderful. But they were everywhere, so after a while no one could notice the smell, because they were always breathing it. Like not being able to smell carbon monoxide," she adds, a vicious little twist in the words, "like that."

"...Okay." You reach under the radiator for a particularly large shard of porcelain.

"The roses were part of me. They... defined me. And they defined the person who - The man that I - My brother." Her brown fingers look fragile, but she picks up the sharpest, tiniest pieces without fear. "...After I left, I realized that I would never have to grow roses again. Never smell them, never touch them. I would find a new flower, I thought, and I would avoid roses and forget all about Akio -"

For a few minutes, there is silence again.

"But I came home today and realized... that I liked roses. I like roses. Not zinnias." She sits back on her heels, carefully folds her hands over her thighs. "I thought I was being so... so much better than before, that I was... free now.... But I'm still doing it, I'm just deciding things based on what he wants, I'm just doing the opposite of what I did before and not what I really want...! I want roses!"

She looks small now, small but sinewy and strong, with her purple hair tumbling down her back and her hands tightly clasped and her eyes fixed on the scattered petals of the last flower. The sun comes in through the window behind her, shrouding her face in shadow, but giving her a silhouette edged in gold.

You sigh, not really sure what to say but not willing to stay silent. "Look," you say, stumbling a little over words of comfort that really don't sound all that comforting, "I guess - well, I guess most people wouldn't decide that and then go smashing all their vases. But, hey -" You shrug, and make an attempt at a bright smile, "you know now, right? All you've got to do is go out and get some roses. Just 'cause some jackass liked 'em doesn't mean you can't."

Himemiya-kun stays on the floor for a moment more. Then she smiles quietly. "Yes," she replies, and gets up, brushing off her skirt. "...Thank you for your help with the flowers, Ogami-san. Would you like some tea?"

"Yeah!" you say, enthusiastic now that the conversation is back in the land of the mundane. "D'you have kocha?"

"I do." Himemiya-kun gets out the kettle and fills it with water. "Ogami-kun?"


"I apologize." She smiles, and her eyes get rather narrow. "I admit, I was using you a little back there."

"What, you mean you need a manly-man to take care of the cleaning?"

"No," she says, and even though she's smiling, you wince a little. She sprinkles tea leaves over the hot water. "Actually, it's just - well, you remind me of someone. Someone I wanted to talk to right then. My apologies."

You breathe the steam. It smells strong, and fragrant. "The girl you're looking for? ...Tenjou-san, right?"

"...Yes." Her tea smells wonderful. Not as wonderful as roses, but in a familiar, safe way. "Yes. Utena."

"Tell you what," you say, and take a saucer, "if you can make great tea and have a buncha roses ready and waiting for her, I'm sure she'll be glad to see you again."

Himemiya-kun smiles at you, hesitantly. Then she presses her lips to the porcelain rim of her cup and drinks deep, as the two of you sit in your safe warm little cloud of steam and the scent of dead zinnias.

R&R and get some of Anthy's delicious kocha tea. ::eyebrow wiggle::