So it occurs to me that maybe I was being kind of a bitch not putting a real content warning and disclaimer on here. Also that some people might stumble onto this through some route other than my author's-note-tastic thread on the forums at In the Rose Garden. (I can't link, I can't post the URL, if you want to take a look, Google it.)
I want to stand as far as I can from this work, so I'd love if was not so hard-assed about sticking author's notes in separate chapters. But they are. So here this is. For more info, and to chat with me about the story, (I'd love to) go to the thread.
DISCLAIMER AND CONTENT WARNING:
Things that do not belong to me (canon plot, characters, etc.) do not belong to me. Everything else is a gray area, but that just means that if you steal it, I will not take legal routes in the course of my vengeance.
Themes are adult in nature, and include physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. There is a shit-ton of psychological fuckery. Nothing is explicit, and that's intentional, but this is not a happy story. I try not to be all doom an' gloom, but if I'm being honest, especially earlier on, even the sweeter moments exist primarily to showcase how bad things get when the shit hits the fan. Except for the planned ending, which is... kind of surprisingly not terrible. Proceed at your own discretion.
BE YE WARNED.
"It's the twenty-first goddamn century, you know. You can sleep with your friends."
The years had changed Juri; she was less elegance and more force. She swore and wore her hair short and tossed her head back when she laughed.
"Wish I could've seen it sooner, I put so much energy into being in love." She smiled, sadly. "Of course it was all wasted. And I must've been a terrible friend."
Miki started to sputter some sort of protest, but Juri waved him aside, and he fell silent with the air of one who lived most of his life behind closed doors.
From that day, what, almost ten years ago now? From that day on, they, the graduates of Ohtori Academy, the Duelists, had been bound to Tenjou Utena and to each other, even though they had gone their separate ways. And so Saionji hadn't been surprised to find the invitation announcing Utena's engagement to Himemiya Anthy, sealed with the rose crest, and they had all traveled, no matter the distance, to attend the engagement party in Seattle.
No, it had been exactly ten years since Utena had dueled Akio. Ten years to the day.
The couple of the hour stopped by, and for a moment, they looked exactly as they had been then, Duelist and Rose Bride, but the impression was fleeting. Had Utena changed? Were her eyes sharper, softer? She wore the intervening years like a scarf wrapped around her shoulders, but in some way, she hadn't changed a bit. And Anthy was as inscrutable as ever.
"Please, forgive us. It has taken so long to speak with all the guests." They exchanged a look, Utena squeezing Anthy's hand.
"We need to catch up! I want to know what you've all been up to."
And then they moved on, Utena having spotted her best friend from school. Saionji knew Shinohara Wakaba better than he would've liked to admit, and she was a sweet girl, but… sweet. She needed nothing to do with the likes of him.
When in the evening did he start drinking? Not like everyone else was, because they were adults and it was a party in a bar, but drinking to get drunk. He had just been thinking that there was a point at which fashionably late became unfashionably rude. It was a moment to which he was completely attuned and of which he was completely unaware. And if he had realized what was happening, he might have done otherwise, because that was the point when everything that happened that night became inevitable.
"So, old man."
And then he was there, leaning against the table, drink in one hand, eyeing Saionji's hakama and haori, a smile playing across his lips, bitter and cruel. In retrospect, it was alarming how little he had changed. And he still smelled like roses.
"Miki, Juri. I haven't seen you all in so long."
Ten years ago, Miki would've been the one to speak, but now he was silent.
"Utena and Anthy came by a moment ago. And I think your sister's here somewhere." Juri looked as if she could've hit Touga.
"Of course, Nanami would never miss a party, even if it wasn't hers. Well, I should go pay my respects." And he moved off.
Every moment, Saionji knew where Touga was, couldn't help but know where he was, drank to try to erase knowing. Juri, having said everything she had to say to the other duelists, went to go stand by the bar and talk to someone else about something else. Miki said nothing, and at some point vanished unnoticed for parts unknown.
The evening wore on, and the guests started to drift away. Across the room, Touga was talking with some girl, one of Anthy or Utena's American friends, probably. He touched her hair. They leaned towards each other, kissed. She giggled, pulled away, but not too far. For a moment—had it just been his imagination? —Saionji thought that Touga looked right at him, while whispering something into the girl's ear. They left together and Saionji followed them.
He didn't care that he stood out. He didn't care that Touga probably knew that he was there—was sure, fleetingly, that he knew. He was aware, dimly, of getting a lot of strange looks, but he was too drunk to actually process the information.
The hotel was only a few blocks away, and he followed them up to the room, standing in the hall for some time, he didn't know how long, before pounding on the door. Touga answered, shirt already undone, hair already a mess. He didn't look surprised. He didn't invite Saionji in, but he didn't try to stop him, either.
The girl was sitting on the bed, looking disheveled. The instant she saw Saionji, she hastily got herself together and fled.
He was yelling. He didn't know what he was yelling, and later he recalled, vaguely, that it was something like, "What do you think you're doing?" and he wasn't sure what he'd meant by that.
At first, Touga acted as if the man standing in his hotel room screaming at him was a thing of mild curiosity, but at some point, Saionji must've said something that hit a nerve, he didn't know what, because it turned into a fight, and then the fight had gotten physical, and then it hadn't really been a fight. After that, things blurred into one another and slid into darkness.