stealth_noodle: Anthy kisses Utena's fingers. (utena/anthy)
Stealth Noodle ([personal profile] stealth_noodle) wrote in [community profile] yuri_challenge2011-03-13 09:46 pm

Awakening, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Utena/Anthy

Title: Awakening
Creator: [personal profile] stealth_noodle
Rating: PG
Warning: None
Word Count: 1484
Prompt: Utena/Anthy, afterward
Teaser: When she opens her eyes, she sees the sky.

When she opens her eyes, she sees the sky, cut with utility lines and fenced in by tall buildings. Her feet are on the sidewalk; her back, against a cement wall. She remembers the swords. She remembers—

Utena's hand darts under her shirt and finds the skin below her ribs thick with scar tissue. She presses it and frowns, uncertain whether to be more surprised that she is alive or that there is physical evidence that what happened was real.

What is real, here?

"Himemiya!" she shouts, but only a few passers-by even bother to stare. No rose petals rain down; no bells ring; no swords burst from anyone's chest. This is a world in which Ohtori is a dream.

Scar tissue. Her fingers trace the edges until her jaw sets with determination. Dreams don't leave scars.

Something in her trouser pocket is pressing against her thigh where a sword should be. She pulls her hand away from her midsection and pulls out a tightly rolled paper, tied with a pink ribbon. When she unrolls it, it congratulates her on her graduation.

In the back of her mind flicker images of a black rose and a doppelgänger gone wrong, but she shakes them away. She knows what is real. The coffin is still real, even if she has climbed out of it. Himemiya is more real than the pavement, the air, the rumble of traffic.

Utena sheathes her diploma and sets off down the path before her. The shadows do not dance on the wall as she passes.

Ohtori doesn't collapse behind her, doesn't roll up like a scroll and flatten into a thin line. The earth doesn't crack beneath her foot. The sky is still the sky.

Anthy didn't expect otherwise, but this world long ago faded to a dream for her; she lost sight even of how she fell, let alone what came before. This is the world beyond her brother's comprehension. This is the world beyond her coffin: wild, uncomfortable, vast. The road runs at a tangent to the cycle that has defined her.

Inside and out, the swords have scattered. In a revolutionized world, the roles are too jumbled to allow them focus; the witch is the princess is the prince, and Anthy is Anthy.

Her heart pounds in her chest. Chu-Chu's whiskers twitch against her cheek. Without her there will be nothing to maintain Ohtori, until eventually the barriers thin to nothing and her brother becomes a man lost in his own illusions, obsessed with opening an empty coffin. A millennium ago, she might have felt pity.

Now she saves her sympathy for herself and doesn't look back.

"Wherever you are," she tells a patch of sky the precise shade of Utena's eyes, "I'll find you. Wait for me."

When her first few steps introduce a pebble to her shoe, she pauses to shake it out and walks on without pain. Without pain, her senses are alive with nuance. She tries to imagine what it will feel like to hold Utena's hand without a haze of agony.

An hour later, a woman driving alone through the countryside, having no idea that Anthy was ever the target of her primal hatred, gives her a ride into the city.

Himemiya could be anywhere, and this city is only one city of millions. Utena tells herself not to be discouraged when the dark-skinned girl in the flower shop turns out to be a stranger.

Maybe she should find her way back to Ohtori. That's where she saw Himemiya last—face streaked with tears, hand outstretched and out of reach, falling—and Utena has no reason to assume that Himemiya isn't still in that coffin. The diploma is no guarantee against such a failure.

With the coins she scrounges from her pocket, she buys a soda and a map from the first convenience she happens across. She recognizes the name; this is where she transferred from the train to the taxi that took her on the final leg of her journey to Ohtori. Maybe the city's station will be familiar to her, or maybe not; it feels like a lifetime has passed since she was last outside the academy.

She catches her reflection in a storefront window as she continues down the street. There is a slit in her uniform where the sword passed through, but no blood. Her ring is cracked; its reflection catches the light at an odd angle and appears black. After a moment's hesitation, she slides it off her finger and into her pocket.

Anthy's ride drops her off at the station with directions to hotels, restaurants, and the city's planetarium. She nods and offers her polite thanks, though she has no interest in any of them. Instead she walks into the heart of the station, where the crowd ebbs and flows between platforms and shops.

No one's eyes meet hers with malice. No one here pretends to own her. She can belong now without belonging to.

She kisses the top of Chu-Chu's head before sending him into the walls to serve as her second eyes.

At the station, none of the taxi drivers will take Utena to Ohtori for the money she has left. She is undeterred; she can ask to join someone going the same way or, if all else fails, walk. Her legs have climbed thousands of steps into the sky, so thirty kilometers on level ground should scarcely be a challenge.

As she walks away from the taxis back into the station proper, she drains the last of her soda and tosses the can into a recycling bin. It's a good shot; a group of girls applauds. Maybe she needs to save Wakaba, too, and everyone else. Maybe when sees Ohtori again, she will see only rows of coffins, strewn with rose petals. Being Utena means not leaving anyone behind.

She turns a corner, hears her name in a voice that drowns out all other sound, and then all the world is Himemiya flying into her arms.

There is no pain now but the sweet ache in the heart that she used to think had been torn from her chest. Her chest tightens and her eyes burn, and Anthy savors it all as she crashes to the ground with Utena beneath her.

"Himemiya!" is all Utena says before Anthy kisses her. Their lips and tears mingle until it impossible to remember where one ends and the other begins or what they were before they joined.

The crowd ebbs and flows around their island.

Utena's fingers run through her hair and down her face until Anthy finds and laces them with her own. Their foreheads press together as they breathe heavily, eyes closed.

"I was so afraid I'd lost you," Utena murmurs. "I thought I'd left you behind because I failed. I was coming back—"

Anthy shushes her. "You didn't fail; you opened the door. I still had to walk out myself."

With a shaky breath, Utena pulls her face back enough to leave space for vision. Her irises are stark blue against the redness seeping in around them. "I'm so sorry. I thought I could be your prince."

Anthy is almost startled by the brightness of her own laugh, despite the tears pouring out of her eyes. "Utena, listen. You shifted the axis of the world. The dueling platform crumbled to dust. Anyone who sees the castle in the sky now will see it for it is—a trick of the light, an empty promise. I walked out because your revolution created a world where I could." With a flash of trepidation, Anthy moves a hand, still bound with Utena's, to rest where a hole should be through Utena's torso. "Forgive me."

Utena stares at her, eyes wide and shining, before bursting into laughter cut by hiccups. "Hey, we've done this before! Can we forgive each other now and move on?"

Their hands squeeze tight as they both nod. Anthy can feel ten thousand subtleties in every shift of Utena's skin.

"We need to figure out what to do next, too," says Utena as they rise from the floor. She lets go of one of Anthy's hands to brush the dust from her backside. "I've got eighty yen and a map."

Smiling, Anthy opens her bag to reveal a framed photograph and thick stacks of bills held together with rubber bands. Chu-Chu burrows up through them with a banana.

They catch each other's gaze and grin.

The café on the southern end of the the station serves coffee, tea, sandwiches, and pastries. Two girls sit in the corner with their hands twined, sipping cups of royal milk tea and sharing a plate of almond cookies. They eat slowly because they have rail passes, no itinerary, and eternity in front of them.

Their time is their own.
hejinglan: Abra dozing off. (kagura)

[personal profile] hejinglan 2011-03-14 02:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Aww, so sweet. I love this. ♥
beccastareyes: Image of two women (Utena and Anthy) dancing with stars in the background.  Text: I have loved the stars too fondly... (stars)

[personal profile] beccastareyes 2011-03-14 06:56 pm (UTC)(link)
tg: (danbo&color of my heart(s))

[personal profile] tg 2011-03-15 02:07 am (UTC)(link)
I love, love, love this. The descriptions are so vivid and real, especially in contrast to Ohtori, and the emotions are so visceral. I think this part

"I was so afraid I'd lost you," Utena murmurs. "I thought I'd left you behind because I failed. I was coming back—"

Anthy shushes her. "You didn't fail; you opened the door. I still had to walk out myself."

is my favorite though. Thanks so much for sharing. ♥!
briar_pipe: Wakaba watching the gears turn (Wakaba watching)

[personal profile] briar_pipe 2011-03-15 02:11 am (UTC)(link)
Wow, this is so beautifully in character for both of them (and for Ohtori Academy, as well). I'll happily take this as my new head canon. ^_^

Thank you for writing this!
canis_m: dancing homo schoolgirls (Aoi Hana)

[personal profile] canis_m 2011-03-16 09:15 pm (UTC)(link)
This is perfect! I've always been too overwhelmed by the series itself to be able to envision the "afterward" with any kind of clarity or coherence--although I wanted a vision like this one, badly, which is why I left the prompt--so thank you, thank you, thank you for doing it so beautifully.

"You didn't fail; you opened the door. I still had to walk out myself." THIS, YES. I love "eighty yen and a map" forever, too. I love that Utena's trying to get back just as Anthy is getting out and for a second it seems like they might pass each other like ships in the night noooo but then they have the excellent flying-tackle reunion instead. Even the Chu-Chu bits are perfect. You are my hero.
threewalls: threewalls (Default)

[personal profile] threewalls 2011-03-18 07:10 pm (UTC)(link)
This is great.
littlebutfierce: (utena queer)

[personal profile] littlebutfierce 2011-03-26 04:50 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, this is lovely!

Himemiya is more real than the pavement, the air, the rumble of traffic.

I love this, the tension between one world & another, the fumbling to remember & make sense of things.

Your writing is beautiful--the descriptions are heartrending & awwwww, the ending! <3
vi: (lotus)

[personal profile] vi 2011-03-29 02:27 am (UTC)(link)
This was so beautifully written - I love the ending!
chrissy_sky: (senshi - michiru/haruka)

[personal profile] chrissy_sky 2011-06-23 06:13 am (UTC)(link)
This is perfect.