Juri Arisugawa crossed her arms and frowned in disapproval as she watched the current fencing match. What is up with him? She she wondered, her eyes on the fencing team's captain as he sparred with a girl who only joined a day or two ago. Incredulously, the great Ruka Tsuchiya was losing to this girl. He was on the defense as this newbie unskillfully charged at him, all of her movies sloppy and slow. This perturbed Juri. Ruka wasn't only on the defense with this pitiful excuse for a fencer, but he was defending badly! He was sluggish and stumbling over the freshly waxed floor. Juri sniffed in disdain as the girl finally won the match and tilted her head to the side, carrot orange curls brushing up against her cheeks.
The fencing captain complimented the girl as he took of his mask, putting away both swords before bidding her goodbye. Juri waited for him at the exit, leaning back casually against the doorframe. Ruka gazed at her with a slightly puzzled look as he approached. "Juri?" She fixed him with her disapproving forest green gaze, lifting a brow. "What was that Ruka?" The blue haired male feigned ignorance. "What was what?"
Juri snorted. "Don't give me that crap, you just lost to a newbie that I would've beaten in four seconds." Ruka chuckled softly. "Ah, you saw that?" She nodded. "Yeah, what was that? Do you like her or something?" He shook his head. "I don't like her. I suppose I'm just having an off day." He sighed wearily and ran a hand through his matted hair. Please Ruka, you never have an off day when it comes to fencing, she opened her mouth to tell him so, but stopped. She noticed the blue haired male was looking unusually pale. "Are you feeling alright?" He waved a hand. "Nothing to worry about, I'm only a tad under the weather."
"I never said I was worried."
The next day Juri casually strolled through the hallways of Ohtori Academy, finished with her classes and filling the void with idleness. There were no meetings with the student council today and her fencing uniform needed to be washed, so there wasn't much else to do. Maybe I'll see what Miki's up to, she thought, turning a corner and pausing when she heard an unappealing sound. Is someone throwing up? For the next few moments all was silent and Juri thought she'd imagined it. The orange haired teen just began to resume her stroll when the sound of retching started up again. It was close by, just over in the next hallway. Juri wrinkled her nose in disgust. Someone's getting sick, and they don't even have the decency to go to the bathroom. Well that's gross. Gross and rude.
However, Juri found herself heading in the direction of the retching. Perhaps it was just curiosity, perhaps it was because she intended on scolding whoever it was. She walked briskly to the next hall, the sickening sounds dying just as she turned the corner. A male figure was doubled over a few puddles of vomit a short distance away, his familiar two toned blue tangled and sweat streaked. "Ruka!?" Juri gaped at the pitiful state of the fencing captain, her eyes widening.
At the sound of his name, Ruka raised his head slightly and looked to her. "Juri…" He broke her gaze again the moment her name left his lips, doubled over further, and clamped a hand over his mouth. The orange haired female was certain he'd vomit again but after a few moments, nothing happened so she cautiously stepped over. "This is humiliating," said Ruka softly, hand slipping from his mouth as he looked up to Juri apologetically, "I couldn't make it to the restroom."
She sighed and gently laid a hand on his back. "Don't be embarrassed, you're sick. I'll take you to the infirmary." Juri kept her voice calm and level, but she was honestly alarmed by Ruka's condition. He was trembling under her touch and looked nothing short of terrible. She'd thought he was pale yesterday, but today Ruka was as white as a sheet. Beads of sweat glistened off his forehead, but the blue haired teen wiped it away as he stood. "No Juri, that won't be necessary. I'll just go back to my dorm…"
Juri scowled. "Don't be stupid, you clearly need help." Ruka shook his head, pulling away from Juri and exhaling shakily. "I just want to lie down…" The look he gave her was weary and pleading, and she gave into it, despite her better judgement. "Fine. At least let me escort you, and if you're not feeling any better by tomorrow, promise me you'll go." The fencing captain nodded agreeably so Juri looped her arm through his and gently led him around the vile puddles.
"Thank you, Juri." Ruka murmured as they arrived at his dorm. "There's nothing to thank me for," she replied, "Just get some rest, okay?" The blue haired male gave her a wan smile. "Yes, of course." Juri slid her arm from Ruka's and watched as he opened the door, still tempted to persuade him to go to the infirmary. No, it's pointless now, she told herself, I've already brought him back here, and anyway he promised to go if he's still unwell tomorrow. She turned to take her leave. "Juri, wait."
The orange haired female looked back over her shoulder. "Yes?" Ruka kept his back to her as he spoke, the door half open and the knob still clutched in his hand. "If I'm unable to remain captain of the fencing team, you'll take over for me. Won't you?" Juri frowned, forest eyes narrowing. "Don't be dumb Ruka, a fencing team can survive a few days without its captain, and you won't be ill any longer than that. Yes, I'll monitor things while you're out, but I'm not going to claim your position."
"Well…Thank you then. I'll see you later Juri." He stepped inside and shut the door. She walked back to her own dorm.
Five days later, Juri was throughly worried about Ruka. She had expected him to be well by that time, better at the very least but that was not the case. The fencing captain was in the infirmary now, had been there for the past four days, and was even sicker than he'd been when Juri had found him retching in the hallway. She'd done as he requested and took over his duties in the fencing club, but those were finished for today, so now she was on the way to visit him.
Juri walked with her arms folded over her chest, reserved and showing no expression as she stepped across the tile floor of Ohtori's infirmary. She entered Ruka Tsuchiya's room in her regarded manner, silently seating herself in the plastic chair across from the bed he laid in and leaning back slightly. "Hello Juri." The pallid teen greeted her with a feeble smile. "How are you feeling today?" She spoke with her usual reserve, though her tone held a touch of gentleness.
"A bit better, how are you?"
"I'm just fine. Will you be returning to classes soon?"
Ruka sighed, royal blue eyes wavering in hesitation. "I…I do not believe so." Juri tilted her head questioningly, a frown turning down the corners of her mouth. "Is something wrong?" The ill teen folded his hands, seeming to struggle. "I'm probably leaving school Juri. Ohtori only allows students to stay in the infirmary if they're showing signs of improvement. If they go a week without any improvement and are too sick to attend classes, they get sent home."
The forest eyed teen lifted her head. "It hasn't been a week yet, and you said yourself you feel better," she said firmly, "You won't be leaving school Ruka, don't worry about that." He blinked, surprised by her certainty. A small smile spread across the blue haired male's face and he closed his eyes. "You're right of course Juri, forgive my foolish fears."
Two nights later Juri sat stiffly on her bed, tightly gripping the precious gold locket that hung around her neck, the picture of her cruel beloved inside. She clutched it protectively now, using the valuable pendant to keep her grounded in her moment of disbelief and sorrow. Ruka was gone, Stop it Juri, she mentally commanded herself, don't be so weak about this! He won't be gone forever, he'll come back when he's well…Ruka will come back…He'll get well and come back to Ohtori. So I shouldn't be like this…
Juri felt childish that she was so broken up over the departure of the fencing team's captain, but she couldn't help feeling any differently. She missed her mentor, and was still concerned for his health. At least while he was in Ohtori, she could keep an eye on him and know how he was doing. Now that Ruka was forced to leave, she couldn't even do that. His health could worsen more, hell he could even die, and she'd never know about it. Juri couldn't say that she and Ruka were friends exactly, and there were a good many of his qualities that she strongly disliked. But he had been the closest to a friend she'd had since Shiori and that boy.
She clutched her locket tighter, feeling the gold rose embed into her palm. "And once again the world has taken someone from me, and teases me with the empty promise they will one day return. There are no miracles Shiori, my sweet sinister butterfly. 'Believe in miracles and they will know your feelings.' Such lies. Miracles do not exist, and they understand me even less than you do…" The orange haired female laid back on her bed and looked at the ceiling. For the first time in a long time, she wished for a miracle she knew wouldn't come. She released the locket and studied her palm, the imprint of an oval rose looking back at her.