Characters: Himemiya Anthy & Tenjou Utena
Date: December 07 [Lawl. Backlogged.]
Summary: Utena makes another search for Anthy and finally finds her on the Olympus Deck. They talk about Akio and Anthy's disappearance.
Warnings: Some very sweet shoujo-ai.
Only those who wanted to be found would be found. Only those who wanted to be found could be found. Utena truly believed this, in spite of wanting to think otherwise. As she looked up at the blackened sky, she drew a deep breath between her lips. The stars weren't helping her. Of course, with Akio's arrival, the stars had brought to her a feeling of great uneasiness. Her thoughts... Her actions... They conflicted with one another.
Anthy. Every day that passed Utena thought of her no more, no less, and simply wondered where she was. Idly, the prince lifted her right hand and brushed off the cuff of her uniform. No matter what happened, She would find her. She had to. Like she'd told Akio, there were no two ways about it.
Anthy had decided to make herself scarce for a time; between that strange... affliction and the discomfited feeling she'd been experiencing, she was left with little desire to interact. With much of anyone, really. Which might have been somewhat detrimental, really, but it wasn't what she'd been concerned with. It was mostly just... Escape. She always had her reasons, regardless if others could see them or not.
The girl had been considering going back for a few days, but something kept her away. She was left to ponder it alone, coming to a disquieting conclusion. But she would make no assumptions until she knew. After all, it... She didn't want to think about it. She wasn't sure what to think about it, which made it all the more difficult. The violet-haired girl hugged herself--to ward against the synthetic weather systems and the feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Utena's right hand lifted and the forefinger tapped at the snow falling from the sky. She hadn't understood it in the first place. This whole weather thing. How could it snow on a ship? How could they have sunshine? How could they have all of these artificial things? The captain could afford it, apparently. Funny.
The captain is so mysterious... Just... like Akio.
That name struck a chord she didn't want to hear. Anthy and Akio didn't belong in her thoughts simultaneously. She finally pushed herself away from the railing that she was using as support and turned. Her gaze fell on the hair that she was sure she saw in the distance and she suddenly felt colder. Utena blamed the snow.
"Hime...miya?" she mouthed to herself in a barely audible whisper.
The dark skinned girl, so wrapped up in her thoughts, only took real notice of the falling flakes landed directly on the tip of her nose. Deep lashes fluttered, finally revealing bright green eyes, and the girl giggled quietly. Two delicate hands cupped together before her, unquestioning of the unique systems the ship possessed. She had seen stranger and more dynamic systems.
Been partner to more bizarre things.
A few steps forward and Anthy found herself suddenly covered in gently falling snow. She had been hiding in the shelter of an awning, but it was not to be for long. She was quiet still, too far from Utena to have heard the tiny whisper.
Surely she was imagining things now. Utena had been so locked into thought, so obsessed with finding her princess that she was seeing things. Was the mind truly that powerful, though? If she'd asked Akio, he probably could have given her a long-winded explanation that would have made her feel like she was learning something. He knew a lot, though, and that was to be expected.
She scoffed to herself when she considered that she was growing impressed. That was enough of that. Enough. Of. That. Her yearning pushed her forward and she edged around the obstacles in the way, trees, poles, lounging chairs that had been left there since the beach incident. Her heart, pounding behind her ribcage, compelled her to continue.
"Himemiya!" she called out, forcefully louder. If she was giving an odd look in return, she'd know she had really lost it. Otherwise, maybe it wasn't her grasp on reality slipping.
Akio. Her brother. Her world before Utena. Her veil. Her entrapment. Her regret. The witch-turned-princess knew that if that feeling in her stomach was as real as her mind told her it was, then it was perfectly rational for her to have had that string of thought. That brief, descriptive string of thoughts that threatened to make her both elated and ill. Now, though, more ill than elated. Before, she would have run to Akio's arms for whatever reason he desired, do whatever he desired.
But no more. She had left that and she would not return to it. Akio had found his new pursuit, but she would not let him have that, either. That pursuit had... The young woman he had wanted to claim would not be his. After all. Utena... That thought was interrupted as a voice snared her attention. Turning quickly, Anthy could only smile, despite the need to smother the growing uncertainty in her stomach.
If she was right...
Utena knew better than to think of Anthy as the Rose Bride. Yet as she looked on that visage, it was what she felt in her heart. Perhaps it wasn't so much the Rose Bride as it was just a bride. Her bride. But they weren't engaged anymore, were they? The world had been brought its revolution. Those from Ohtori were allowed to grow independently without End of the World governing them. That was what Utena had wanted.
Anthy was free to make her own decisions, to be her own person. What kind of person did she want to be? Utena had stopped registering her actions. Her thoughts were consuming her again, but in spite of this, she continued to move. She wasted no time in approaching the smaller young woman and taking her into a tight embrace. It took her only a few moments of dreaming that she could partake in this for all eternity before she managed to speak again.
"Himemiya... Himemiya...!" Her head inclined and she pressed the tip of her nose into that soft and silky hair.
"Utena?" Anthy's voice was gentle in its bemused questioning, the way she had always been when she knew more than she let on. It was a subtle thing and one could usually chalk it up to her being flirtatious or sweet. Nevertheless, the bride--for she still thought herself as engaged to her prince--wrapped her arms around Utena's neck and smiled sweetly at the one speaking to her. She knew she had worried the taller between them, as little could inspire such a response.
Rather than obviously be comforting, Anthy turned her head to rest her cheek against Utena's shoulder, eyes closing as a small sigh escaped. She had missed the company, to be honest, but... All the same. She had desired to be away. She didn't regret the decision, either; it gave her time to think she wouldn't have had, in a way. And she would wait for Utena to breech the topic of her current musings.
Where to begin. What was she supposed to ask? Was it right to inquire as to what Anthy had done, or where she had gone? Back in Ohtori, Utena would have wasted no time in asking this. But at that time, she knew she had been using her to inflate her ego. It was something she still had a difficulty accepting and letting go of.
Her hands brushed over the small of Anthy's back and she simply held her companion to her. When she felt that heat spread over her cheeks, she attempted to push it aside. Now wasn't the time to think about her misdeeds. It was imperative that she saw to Anthy first and foremost.
She chose to drop such a harsh facade and she nodded, "Are you all right? You're not hurt, right?" If she was, of course, Utena wouldn't hesitate to find the cause.
Anthy had been used for all sorts of purposes at Ohtori; she didn't begrudge Utena her desires. After all, Utena had, in truth, treated her better no matter the subconscious intent. She had shown some degree of care, after all. And Anthy had been the Rose Bride--who was she to question what her fiancees desired or how they behaved? But now... Now both Anthy and Utena knew--better, more, well, intimately. There was new life after revolution.
The smaller form nestled close as hands settled and Anthy was held, a smile curving dark lips. She knew not of the little things afflicting her prince's state of mind, but she could guess that her concerns had already met with Utena. The thought upset her, but she kept it muted as she preferred this to questioning in that vein. To Utena's questions, she provided simple answers.
"I'm fine, Utena," she cooed, smiling still. "I'm sorry for worrying you."
"I'm fine, Utena. I'm sorry for worrying you."
She almost couldn't mask her relief. Almost. Did she really seem so worried? The thought made her feel vulnerable and even around Anthy she didn't want to give off that impression. She couldn't protect herself or others if she showed some sort of weakness.
Withdrawing only a little, she looked down to her companion, admiring those jade eyes and then the plush lips. "It's not like you to disappear and not tell anyone. I mean, to not tell me. I only wanted to be sure that you were okay." A hand lifted and she fingered the ringlets adorning the ends of Anthy's hair.
Inclining her head, she pressed her lips to her companion's forehead. "I'm very happy to see you. You look beautiful beneath the snow, Himemiya." And she did.
Dear Utena, always striving to be the strength for those around her--to appear unbreakable. Anthy wondered how the other would react upon discovering that weakness meant little when in private situations. Real strength wasn't in masking concern or being rock-solid. Her prince could be this so easily, and she had been many times. It was one of those things that drew Anthy to her.
Anthy simply smiled up into Utena's gaze, wearing a slightly sheepish look as she lifted her shoulders and shied away some. Coquettish, innocent. It was true: it was unlike her to not tell Utena where she was going, especially now that they'd slipped out of the Rose Bride and Duelist Prince positions. Or had they? She said nothing to the cover, merely moved full circle to smile up at the rose-haired individual once more.
"I wanted to come back sooner than now," Anthy admitted, hands slipping to cup Utena's face tenderly. The compliment received a blush and Anthy let her head tip to one side. "And you look dashing like this."
If you wanted to, then why didn't you? Utena wanted to ask. She knew better than to press into that, however. At least, she didn't want to ask about it. She didn't want to dig into something unless Anthy volunteered that information. Surely if Anthy wanted her to know, then she'd openly tell her. Otherwise... Utena was a little out of luck.
She took the princess' hand into her own and tilted her head into it. That was a welcoming gesture, and while words may not have accurately portrayed it, her physical reactions did. "I look the same as I always do," Utena replied with the hint of a smile playing upon her lips. In her own opinion, when she dressed like that, she'd felt like she hadn't aged in the least. Utena took some pride in her youth, though she looked forward to aging and growing wiser.
"It doesn't matter," she continued, signifying Anthy's personal matters. "You're here now, and I am too." So that led her to the subject of... him. And how was she supposed to bring that up? Utena glanced past her for a moment, trying to think of a strategic way to handle the situation. Then she turned her attention back onto Anthy. "You're not cold, are you? If so, stay close to me."
Anthy was one certainly to keep her secrets to herself until she decided to speak about them. After all, all that time at Ohtori... And she hadn't said anything about the game she and Akio played with the duelists. Something she was coming both to regret and appreciate. She felt some regret for using people the way they did, but it led to such, in her opinion, a wonderful result.
Lips curved into a delicate, warm smile at the gesture and at the smile that graced her prince's lips. Anthy did notice that slight hesitation, but she said nothing of it. After all, like herself, Utena was permitted to have her secrets--secrets she would tell when the time was right or when they were revealed by outside sources through incident or otherwise. And she respected that, knowing how important it was to have secrets.
"You are still handsome, Utena, but you seem even more so now than usual," Anthy corrected, stepping close to the pink haired young woman. She was a bit cold, but she wouldn't say that aloud. Tilting her head back just slightly, Anthy pressed a faint kiss to the underside of Utena's jaw, a small sign of affection for a time spent away. She would make up for the distance when the chance was provided.
Compliments normally didn't work on Utena. They weren't her style. They really weren't. She didn't like flattery, and she didn't care for people who performed that way. In Anthy's case, it was something entirely different, though. Utena had thought this since the first moment she saw the former Rose Bride in front of the rose garden. As she considered it, a lot of things had started and ended there. Many things had taken place there. She'd eavesdropped, watered the roses herself, and spent a good amount of time with Anthy there.
"Even more than usual, hm?" Utena echoed, in a strange sort of tone that reminded her of Akio. He liked questioning things, she'd noticed. As far as she knew, it was his way of simply attracting her attention and eight times out of ten, it worked. And the more she thought about him, the more she knew she needed to tell Anthy about him. How much, she wasn't sure, but she had to at least know he was there, and present, and likely in their room.
Anthy's gesture, sweet and innocent (or so Utena assumed) as it was, caused Utena to tighten her grasp upon her princess. If Utena had held any say in it, she might not have allowed Anthy to ever leave her side again. The thought made her think of Saionji, however, and immediately filled with distaste any sort of temptation fled her mind. Instead, she inclined her head and spoke sternly, forward, sincere with her words. "Your brother is here, Himemiya."
That simple sentence, four words and her name, and the dark skinned, rich violet haired young lady's blood ran cold. So she was right. The awkward knotting in her stomach increased and then evened out. Knowledge settled the uncertainty. Her body did not tense, though one might have expected it to. Rather, she simply remained as she was in Utena's arms, leaning with that tightened hold. Her tone, which had been sweet and light, now dropped to that old emptiness which once edged her speech.
"I know he is," she said simply, quietly. She knew that inevitably she would meet her sibling on this ship; she simply refused to do as he'd asked. He was no prince to her, now. She had found her prince, one who would be kind and gentle and, above all, loving. She had walked away from Akio to find Utena, after all. Her Morning Star... was no more. It was Venus who Anthy loved.
The shorter adolescent leaned back, smiling gently at Utena. All traces of that unpleasantness that had so briefly traced her form vanished as she again gazed upon her blue-eyed prince. She could not recall a time when she so loved to gaze upon anyone but Utena or Dios...
"Have you spoken with him?" Anthy asked gently.
She knew? Right. Of course she did. Anthy was observant. Anthy was more than capable of knowing the situation. She was probably steps ahead of Utena, after all. For a moment, the prince felt foolish. She should have known better, especially to have held any possible doubts.
Utena's right hand brushed against Anthy's lower back thoughtfully, wondering how to answer such a question. There were those jade eyes, the ones that looked so terribly vacant, the ones that looked so... empty. It made Utena worry, though she wouldn't bother saying such. With the way things were going, Anthy would have that figured out without Utena needing to say anything. Then it vanished. Just like a flame doused by water, that expression vanished and Utena's demeanour softened.
She finally nodded. Spoken with him. Yes. One could say that. At the very least, Utena had spoken with him. "I came to look for you, as was the routine, and stumbled into him. Sort of." Then she paused, "...He didn't say anything detrimental, and seemed surprised that you weren't here, when I told him what I was doing." But was Akio responsible for Anthy's disappearance then...?
Anthy hummed, a thoughtful sound to say the least. Gentle, low, soft--almost inaudible, really. Also noncommittal in its tone, in a way. Thoughtful-positive or thoughtful-negative, she never really gave a suggestion to which it was. But her prince was not foolish; she had confirmed something for Anthy, and for that the young woman was grateful. A kiss to her prince's cheek affirmed that.
The former Rose Bride canted her head delicately to the side, unbound hair flowing idly from where it rested. Brows arched as she considered the words spoken to her, her mind assessing any hesitation and any other suggestions that more was there than what was said. No, more had happened and Anthy was sure of it. She hadn't been around for a while and this was Akio they were talking about... But she wouldn't say anything about that for now. Instead, she cooed quietly, pushing up on her toes to steal a gentle kiss.
"So long as he wasn't unpleasant." She knew, concerning Akio, it could have very easily been the case, just buried under sweet pretenses. "Hmm... I left Ohtori to find you; I'm not surprised that he expected me to be with you."
Was she waiting for some sort of judgement to be cast upon her? Utena felt like she'd been caught with her hand in the cookie jar--in a manner of speaking. And it was no great secret that Utena was pretty guilty. Guilty of this, and that, and things she was too ashamed to even bring up. Her attention was captured from her inward chiding by the lips to her cheek.
If she had placed faith into some sort of deity, she might have praised him, or her, or it, or them for exactly how beautiful her princess was. There were times when Utena was so caught by simply staring at her that nothing else in the world seemed to matter. She lifted a hand and idly fingered the ends of Anthy's hair, admiring how soft it was to the touch. Then she smiled a little and nodded, "I think he implied that he wanted to accompany me when I would look for you. At least, that was how it seemed. Of course, my view could be jaded. Perhaps."
Anthy tipped her head to the side, keeping her expression light. With a quiet laugh, she returned to nestling into Utena's form, sliding her arms around the taller girl's waist and squeezing just slightly. And it was around then that Anthy decided that the cold was distinctly unpleasant, as the chill found its way past the coat and scarf she wore. Pressing her nose against Utena's collar, she drew back after a brief moment.
"I think in regards to Akio, a little skepticism is necessary. However... I would suggest we find some place warmer." A smile still danced across her features. "I'm feeling a bit cold, and I'm sure you are, too."
It a welcomed feeling, holding Anthy against her. Utena couldn't exactly place into words just how much she had missed that. Something in her pride prevented her from saying any such thing, however, and perhaps that was for the best. She'd say something wrong and if she hurt Anthy--which she knew, inevitably she had--she wouldn't be able to forgive herself easily. It hurt more to be forgiven, than it did for someone to simply outright hate her. Then again, she wanted to believe Anthy wasn't exactly capable of hate. Hopefully.
"...A little skepticism is necessary..." Utena repeated, nodding slowly. Then she zeroed in on the ending of her statement. She was cold? The prince held Anthy closer, possibly overlooking any statements beneath that--likely due to the concern that was gnawing on her heart. "Let's go in then." A hand lifted and she gestured toward the stairs that would lead them down to the Eridanos Deck.
"Hey, Himemiya," she managed to speak up. "Since when did you speak of your brother so... casually?"
Was Anthy capable of hate? It was possible. Could she ever feel it toward Utena? Doubtful, no matter what might prompt any such notion in the former duelist. Pride had guided Utena quite a ways, hadn't it? From a simple upstart of a student to a valiant prince Anthy had fled a never-ending game of manipulation to find. There was little doubt that she would forgive Utena, really; everyone made mistakes and Akio was... difficult. Even when Anthy hadn't... When she had been distracted with thoughts of another. Another time, another place.
Anthy settled tight to Utena, leaning into her warmth and following where she led. She had followed her as her Fiancee, followed her through Revolution, and even followed her after she vanished from Ohtori, leaving behind everything she had known for much too long. And now life was new. With new lives and realizations came new perspectives.
"Hm...?" Casually? Had she? "Mm... Perhaps when I abandoned the role of the Rose Bride to follow you?" She would probably slip back to her previous polite and considerate form when face to face with Akio, but... She felt some distaste for her brother, no matter what strange and twisted loyalty might be lingering beneath her resolve; had he bothered to find another Bride after she left, she wondered? It didn't really matter, but the thought managed to cross her mind.
Utena did not respond immediately. She couldn't. Part of her wanted to, of course, but the other part of her, the one that made a little more sense, knew that if she didn't have anything worthwhile to say, she didn't need to say anything at all. Besides, Anthy could do something that nobody else could, and that was the ability to read into her feelings without actually needing to hear them from the lips. It might have been empathy. Perhaps. Utena had read those love stories about couples sharing that sort of bond. While she wasn't exactly the most romantic person, she decided that it was at least a little bit probable. Mayhaps.
Down into the shelter from the blowing of the harsh winds and the bitter cold, Utena paused and stopped her companion when they reached the hallway. She knew well enough that it wasn't a long walk to her room. It had seemed like ages when she'd walked this way with Akio, but that was because while her feet were walking, her mind was still up on the Olympus Deck, still staring at the tall man, still remembering everything she had attempted to ignore, or repress. Her own feelings...
The thumb of her left hand fidgeted and fingered her ring. How did she feel? How was it so difficult to separate the anger she felt for Akio, and the sympathy? And since when had she been filled with such compassion? A part of her felt used by him when she thought of that nature. And another part of her remembered that she was the one who had wanted to use him instead. He'd been her playtoy that evening, but the way he'd looked at her and touched her was so sincere. Those thoughts reflected within her eyes when she looked towards Anthy.
"I told Akio he could stay in our room until I could find you again. I was lonely, not having you or Juri Sempai here." It was better to be straight forward with her... right?
Anthy followed in silence, her head against Utena's shoulder as they walked. However, as soon as Utena stilled, she lifted her head, peering up at the taller girl quiet a quiet expression. She knew the fidgeting, knew the pink-haired duelist was nervous. Over what? Something settled in her stomach once more and she was almost certain she knew. She would wait to hear it from Utena, though; passive as she was before, she was the same now. The attributes she had picked up from Utena were muted for now.
When Utena finally spoke, the hall felt almost as cold as the deck above. Anthy simply nodded, a thin smile spreading across her lips. Yes, of course. Utena would have been lonely without people she knew around, wouldn't she? This ship was so big that it was hard to really meet people. Her eyes closed with her smile, offering a brighter one to her companion.
Akio took things, didn't he? Anthy mused over the notion. This wasn't the first time, was it? He took the freedom from those duelists too naive to see through Ohtori Academy... Maybe this sort of thinking was something she'd gotten from Utena. She never would have let such thoughts run through her head on her own. Akio was... So very much to her. She had been upset when she saw him with Utena... Or was it because it had been Utena with Akio?
"At least you weren't lonely then, hm?" she asked sweetly, no outward signs that the news bothered her. She settled against Utena's arm, dismissing all the thoughts related to that from her mind.
Was that it? Anthy was clever. Anthy was smart. She'd know what had happened, whether Utena planned to go into detail or not. In fact, that was very much the reason she didn't come right out and say anything. There would be no point to it. Why state the obvious? Utena's expression often revealed her thoughts, especially when they were regarding such troubling issues. There was a drastic difference between the contemplative Utena and the Utena that was considered 'normal'--or what had been 'normal' in Ohtori.
She looked down to the violet-haired beauty on her arm and silently regarded her, blue eyes never once leaving her companion's. How vacant they were at times. She'd thought that the night with Akio as well. She'd inwardly confessed that she wished she could stare into their souls and see their true intents. To say that Utena did not hold up some type of guard against all was true, even with Anthy. In spite of that, however, she found that Anthy was the most important person to her, and her priority. She would happily given up her happiness for the bride.
There was a clear recognition of that look. It was an upturn of the lips, but there was something lying beneath it. Envy, perhaps? The type of envy Utena had felt at how close Anthy and Akio were together. "...I wasn't lonely. You're right." But that didn't necessarily make her feelings right. Or were they? Being curious, wanting to be steps closer to her prince, were these things wrong? Utena had questioned it that night and nearly every passing moment after. "I'm sorry, Himemiya."
And she offered her a gentle squeeze. How much she wanted to be affectionate with her companion, and how she held herself in shame to prevent herself from doing any such thing. That was not her right.
Recognition, yes. Anthy slid away from her own prince, knowing well how Utena thought of Akio. But some part of her... some small part of her still felt the pain of the blades she endured. Had thought that the desperation with which Utena had fought to free her would have... stayed. But to the one who fancied herself a prince, there were always the temptations, she supposed. And she knew, of course, that Utena had never been one for the game; she'd honestly thought she'd been protecting Anthy.
Her back to Utena after drawing away, Anthy spun on her toes to face the girl, smiling as brightly as before. As if nothing were wrong. As if Utena hadn't implied anything--as if Anthy hadn't figured it out. She knew greater pains than this. This was not something unusual; it had happened quite a few times, actually, and she'd known it. She hadn't even flinched, before.
She hadn't said anything at the apology or the squeeze, slipping away soon after. Brushing loose strands of hair behind her shoulder, Anthy let her head tilt just a bit, still smiling.
"You don't have anything to apologize for, Utena." The honourific sat at the tip of her tongue, the first time since she left Ohtori. Since Utena had disappeared. Since she'd reached for her hand after her bloodied prince had wrenched open that coffin.
There was a sharp stinging sensation when Anthy withdrew. That was to be expected, however. Utena had played that in her mind over and over again, embracing herself for when it would happen. She didn't want to lie. She didn't want to hide it. Not from Anthy. The rest of the world didn't need to know about those sorts of things, but Anthy did. That was right to her. That seemed the appropriate thing to do. Utena would not have reacted in any other way. Only fear and cowardice would have caused her to hide, but Utena wasn't like that. She didn't hide. That was hardly noble, and scarcely defined as strength.
Quirking her head, faintly at best, Utena watched Anthy, admiring how lithe her form was. Her eyes reacquainted themselves with the individual curves of her companion, though they were difficult to see in the apparel. Utena couldn't forget that, however. Not with the nights they had laid down together and talked of dreams and desires. Sometimes it seemed surreal; that she could be so close to her. At that time, Anthy was simply a close friend. Initially, a part of Utena had seen her as a way to fully grow into that form she wanted to be in, to fulfill that position as a prince. It had grown past that, however, and Utena had to admit that she did... love Anthy.
Love. That was a curious word, a word that never passed between her and Akio, and hardly between Anthy and herself either. In fact, it was generally a term Utena tried to avoid discussing, much less considering in her free time.
"...Hime--" Utena began. Then she straightened her posture and shook her head. "No. You're more than 'Himemiya'. You're not a Rose Bride. You're more than just a girl. You're not exactly a princess. You're you. You're... Anthy." Then she relaxed again, "Thanks for understanding."
Thanks for being able to look past the fact that even I'm manipulative. ...Or that I'm still manipulative.
But did Utena realize that Anthy still kept light grip of her own manipulation? Anthy had been the one to guide hapless "princes" along to their dooms, whatever that might have been, after all. But Anthy didn't like to be that person, anymore. She had seen honesty. Had seen real virtue. Had been enamoured by all that she had once loved in someone now lost to her. And then she had seen the valiant young woman beneath it.
The friend she had found first in Utena had been little. Anthy had no value for friends at the time, though she had found herself growing... at least somewhat fond of Utena. But part of it had been her act. Part of her duty as the Rose Bride to be whatever her victor desired. Utena had desired a friend and someone to protect. And so Anthy had filled that role, only to find that things were more genuine than even Anthy had anticipated. Both girls ended up with more than they had initially bargained for in each other.
Love wasn't something she'd anticipated. Not from Utena. Anthy had never found romantic or playful interactions with women all that enjoyable. Well, she hadn't been thinking about them while it happened. But with Utena... her thoughts were always on the rose-haired prince. Roses... Those flowers had so much to do with them, didn't they? And they carried such meanings... Anthy wondered if she might do something with a grouping of them. Something to express everything. Words would not suit this matter, unfortunately for them both.
The switch from using her "surname" to her first name almost startled Anthy. She'd grown accustomed to hearing "Himemiya" from Utena. But Utena's reiteration of Anthy being someone beyond the Rose Bride she had played for so long was familiar.
Himemiya, are you angry with me? I wouldn't blame you for it.
She lifted a hand and tapped her fingertips against her collar thoughtfully. Now what was she to do? That response sounded so much like something the old Anthy would have said. She wouldn't intentionally go back to her old ways, would she? To appease Utena? The prince didn't want to think in this light at all. After all, the two had gone through so much together and Utena had been constantly trying to persuade her to find her own pathway. It was a notion that perhaps registered, but meant very little once the two had been engaged, according to the rules of the duel.
Enough of this, Utena. You missed her, right? So why don't you just open up with that? Don't dwell on things so much, because otherwise you won't be able to get past them.
She swallowed--nearly audibly--as she faced her princess. Encouraging pep talks were always easier to give to other people than to offer to herself. Still, she was making some sort of sense at least. These thoughts were likely the correct ones to follow. In a forest of confusion and a very perplexed Utena, the thoughts of Anthy, and her relief to see her was what would help coax her out of it. And if Anthy allowed it, they could be close again. Utena could obtain that redemption she wanted so badly, and if not from Anthy, than from herself.
A step forward and she extended a hand, taking Anthy by the wrist. At least, that was the plan, something easily evaded or dismissed with even a look from the former Rose Bride. "I missed you. I'm glad you're okay. I'm glad you're here now. I don't want you to ever go again."
Angry? No. Anthy wasn't sure if she could be angry with Utena. Not for this. Her heart seemed to hurt a little, but she kept that well hidden. Her hands clasped in front of her, Anthy watched Utena's movements in silence, waiting and watching and wondering what the other girl would do. After all, there were any number of directions this could go. Anthy knew that thoughts ran through the other's head, but for the moment, she wasn't sure what they were. But Utena's eventual nervous shifting came to an end and Anthy found her wrist caught.
Cool jade travelled from features to the hand that wrapped about her wrist, lifting once more to glance up at Utena. Listening to the prince's words quieted Anthy for a moment longer, uncertain quite how to respond. Glancing again to her wrist, the violet-haired girl shifted slightly. Not away, but toward Utena. Her opposite hand lifted, delicately resting against Utena's pale cheek, letting fingertips roam along the soft skin there.
She couldn't promise she wouldn't leave. Anthy knew she'd never leave Utena, per se, but she might disappear. Just disappear to the upper deck and if she were out long, come back at the end of the day. But she wondered if Utena knew how she sounded. How she sounded so much like Saionji or any of the other possessive victors who came before. The meaning behind it was different, though. They hadn't felt as strongly as Utena did now. And so Anthy smiled.
"...I missed you, too."
What Utena had really wanted to say was that she didn't want to worry so much about where Anthy might go, or that she might get into a situation that she couldn't get out of. If something happened to her, Utena would hold herself accountable. Anthy was her princess, and just as much as Anthy protected her, she wanted to return the gesture. After all, that was the role of the prince. It wasn't just that, though. Utena wanted to protect her. With every beat of the heart, with every breath, she knew this. She wanted this, and wanted it badly.
Subconsciously Utena knew she might have been overstepping the boundaries. This was something Touga would have said to her. He was so forceful, and to some degree rude. He wasn't chivalrous at all. He was in very little ways similar to Utena's image of a prince. Looking at herself from an outside perspective, she realised she wasn't acting very princely either. As a result, her grasp loosened upon Anthy's wrist. Instead, she lifted it to her lips and pressed a kiss against the underside.
"You know... If you ever have something you need help with, you should come to me. That's the way I want us to be able to be." To be open with one another--about anything. She'd said something of the sort before, perhaps prior to all of the fiasco with Akio and the entrance beyond the Rose Gate. "I don't expect you to rely on me all of the time--" She paused for a moment, nearly slipping with the surname, "--Anthy, but you should at least know that I'm here for you."
Yes, a part of felt like she wasn't good enough, or she had done something terribly wrong for Anthy to simply leave without even the slightest word. Any other time, Anthy might have left a note, or something like it. On a ship in space, however, where could one really go...? The possibilities weren't exactly infinite and it was that knowledge that concerned Utena.
Anthy's smile didn't waver as Utena spoke, and the green-eyed girl nodded gently in response, the slightest bit smiling broader at the affection, and perhaps a bit embarrassed. She knew Utena was there for her; it had taken her some time to realize initially, but she was. And, Anthy knew, Utena probably always would be there for her. This led her to wonder what it had been that drove her from that safety, that perhaps boundless affection not long ago. At first, it had been something of an ailment that bothered her, but then it had faded and come to manifest as that discomfort that came from knowing her sibling was nearby.
"I will," she murmured after a moment, drawing her arm away from Utena's light hold and wrapped both around her prince's shoulders. Anthy ducked her chin for a short moment before stretching up onto her toes to press a kiss of her own to Utena's jaw. Yes. She would, and she would keep that in mind. It wasn't the first time something had been said to that effect, and she had not been so open with Utena. Before, however, she had been the Rose Bride. The only one to know the extent of her secrets was Akio. Her brother was no longer her captor or her partner, however, so she gave herself over to the idea of letting Utena know. Of going to her.
There was nothing that could convince Anthy that Utena wasn't good enough or had done something wrong. If only Utena knew! Nothing could slight the other's reputation in Anthy's eyes, though she knew that Utena was imperfect. They all were, no matter what desires reached for otherwise. Anthy had been hiding away, so it was no fault of Utena's that she couldn't find her. She would not slip away into a coffin, however, and abandon her prince. Utena was... too important to Anthy for that.
Holding Utena a fraction tighter, Anthy turned her head to allow lips to graze against Utena's, a smile upon her own. She was in no hurry to return to their rooms, not with Akio being there. She had left her brother and there was no animosity between them, but he was so great a reminder... and there was no telling what he would say upon seeing her again. She wanted this moment to be as it was, without interruption.
Utena tried to remember if conversations between her and Anthy had always been so wordless. After a moment of inward contemplation, she decided that they were. Often times words weren't needed between them. Yes, Utena had spoken quite a bit in the beginning. Most of her words were mindless ramblings and utterings of scorn for Anthy's submissive behaviour. 'Don't let this happen,' and 'don't let so-and-so do this or that to you' and 'this can't happen if you don't want it to' were common sayings at the time, and even ones that Wakaba had used against her.
This time was different, however. The moments the prince was sharing with her bride weren't quite the same as the ones in Ohtori. Much of it came about because of the revolution. The change, that is. It came with growing into their individual flowers, their individual roses, and the significance behind such progression. Words weren't needed anymore between Anthy and Utena for it was likely that they knew each other better than anyone else that might have existed in the world. Akio could only know of the curses that plagued his younger sister. Akio could only know of the fragile and docile nature Utena hid beneath her wings. Akio could only know certain things, and that was because he was blind to all of the miracles that other two had witnessed. After a journey like that, it would have been impossible not to view things in such a perspective.
The world is full of miracles, huh...? Utena thought to herself. Yeah. I guess it is.
She hadn't noticed when Anthy withdrew. Her thoughts had held her captive for that time being, though it quickly came to a close when the contact to her jaw was made. Such a sweet and tender gesture. So innocent, perhaps. So endearing. So angelic. Anthy really didn't know exactly how Utena viewed her. It wasn't something the prince could have put into words.
Utena extended her hands once more and drew her arms around Anthy's small frame. The fingertips of her right hand played upon the small of her back as she inclined her head and placed a ginger kiss upon her bride's lips. She could agree. This moment, whether Akio was in their room or not, was really meant for just the two of them, and Utena thought that was good enough. In fact, Utena thought it was the best thing she could have asked for.