The Unreality of Blue

 

 

Precedent: Things have always been going on for longer than you think. Consider, for example, how long the acting Chairman might have been influencing the president of the Student Council; and consider what brought the blue rose to first challenge the white.

Precedent: Touga makes it a rule not to engage in public displays of affection with men, but sometimes he would let it slide, a little. Of course, it was a rather accurate expression of his affection that he would throw knives at Miki. And miss. By a little.

Precedent: By the third stage of the duels, the acting Chairman had drawn said president terribly close to him. There were many things of his that they shared, that he offered up as if in devotional sacrifice to his dark god. He was also, of course, under the impression that this was of his own free will.

Common knowledge: It is impossible to break down a primary color. These three colors can never be understood as other colors can; they are basic, whole within themselves, and cannot be reduced to other hues.

Common knowledge: One day, a curious man might pin down a butterfly, although it is strange for it to be done by one less intellectually inclined than the butterfly, or by one who is already familiar with its elements.

Common knowledge: Blue roses don't exist.

 

 

02:11:06

 

 

The Sunlit Garden--and it was during the second repetition of the B theme that Touga had a habit of showing up.

Had a habit. Miki hadn't seen him privately for several months. Except recently, once, two days ago, the night before the duel. But that hadn't been on the second repetition of the B theme. Even if he had sat on the bench beside him without apology and let his jacket fall open, as usual.

No. He'd been using a chair that night. They'd been pressed back to back. And Touga's jacket had only blown open in the wind from that car.

The Sunlit Garden--which he could play from memory by now, play in his sleep, with all the variations in the right order and the offset rhythms over the arpeggios perfectly timed, but he preferred not to, because he preferred not to be distracted from the one piece he cared for. So he stopped himself, halfway through the second repetition of the B theme.

Coward. That was what Kozue had said, just an hour ago. Coward.

"Are you distracted by your loss?"

Miki was still for one frozen moment, as if a red rose had fallen from nowhere upon the keys, then lifted his head to see Touga standing in the corner.

"Didn't bring your chair with you this time, I see," Miki said, and Touga laughed softly.

His loss had nothing to do with it. He had expected it. Not at the time, of course; but that was before the fierce, inexplicable, desperate joy of seeing the world and its end had faded. Now, he wasn't in the least surprised. Utena, after all, didn't need to go on joyrides to be able to win.

"Do you always wait for just that phrase?" Miki asked, taking his hands off the keys.

"It has a certain drama to it, with those great sweeps in the left hand. And you know I have a fondness for dramatic entrances."

"Well," said Miki, standing up, "I don't care about my loss and I'm not dueling again."

"You wouldn't be able to anyway. You lost your last chance." Touga took a few steps closer, into the full light, and the top clasp of his jacket was open, baring his throat and the outline of his collarbone. "But I'm not here about that sort of thing."

Miki sat down, breathed in, turned away, breathed out, turned back.

"It's been months."

"As I well know. Have you grown out of me, then?"

Miki turned away again, drew out his stopwatch.

"I never did fully understand why you let me in at all," said Touga. "I suppose I wouldn't be surprised if you rid yourself of me now."

Numbers spun past in Miki's hand. Touga had not moved, but his jacket lay open halfway down.

"You know I won't," Miki said quietly.

"You are such a strange boy," said Touga softly. "I wish I could know you."

"You already have." A little more of an edge to his voice.

"Understand you, then." Heavy white satin and red trim sagged around one lone fastener.

"I can't help you with that."

"I suspected as much. So you will continue to give yourself to me?"

"Do you think I'd have changed all that much in a month or two?"

"You're a growing boy."

Miki had no reply to that. I'll never change, whispered a voice in his mind. I'll never grow up. But it was not a thing he could say to Touga, Touga who was so much closer to a man.

And standing closer, with his jacket full open, and there the familiar planes of his chest.

"The Chairman wants to see you again," Touga whispered.

Miki's eyes widened, and his thumb twitched, and the numbers froze.

 

 

01:07:58

 

 

The elevator bell rang.

One set of footsteps as Touga strode out serenely from the elevator, and a second as Miki followed him, hesitating to take in the place, the tremendous scope of the room and the projector that dominated it. Sunset burned in the arched windows all round and washed luridly across the floor.

Akio stood on the edge of the rug in the red silk shirt of normality, one hand tucked comfortably in his pocket, smiling a little. Touga stopped several paces from him, and Miki hovered even further away; but in that space, it was nothing.

"Mr. Chairman," Miki said uncomfortably. Touga smiled; Akio answered with a quirk of his lips.

"Expecting a car? There's no need for us to go anywhere tonight. This is purely an...informal visit."

"I see," Miki whispered, his suspicions confirmed. "But...I failed what you sent me to do."

"Please," said Akio, with a gentle laugh. "I said this was informal. And I could not hate a man who lost to Utena." He shaped her given name, unexpected, with a certain flair, and reached out his hand to Touga.

"Naturally," said Miki, awkward.

Touga stepped up to Akio, the other never leaving the carpet, and Akio ran his hand down Touga's chest, slid it around him, drew him closer; and they didn't quite kiss, but their faces hovered inches from each other, and Touga was breathing a little loudly, and Akio's hand moved so possessively down Touga's leg that Miki had to catch his breath, blush, look away. When he looked back, Akio was watching him, wicked satisfaction in the curve of his mouth.

Touga turned and reached out a hand to him.

"Come here, Miki."

Miki hesitated, came a step closer.

"Akio here was the one who suggested I first approach you. He's the reason I've been with you."

"You've known him that long?" It seemed irrelevant, silly, yet Miki somehow got it out.

"Oh, yes. I am to he as you are to me."

Miki's eyes widened.

"I thought...I thought nobody could control you." That, too--silly. But Touga was confident, commanding. How could he have come to submit?

"Nobody but him. He controls everybody."

"Even..." Miki whispered, then stopped himself. Nobody controlled Kozue. Perhaps one might use the random, impulsive storm of her presence to one's advantage, but never control her. Emboldened, and denying the urge grab the man by the collar or by that long tie and tell him never to touch his little sister, he stepped closer--close enough for Touga to set a hand on his shoulder. Akio reached out and brushed his fingers through a few strands of Touga's hair.

The shutters slammed.

As the echo died, Miki felt two strong arms grab him, gently, really, and hold him against a tall, powerful body--Akio's. Pressed against the warm flesh clad in silk, his hands clutched in reflex at the man's thighs. Then he felt Touga's hands running over his face, Touga's familiar kiss. Akio's soft, rich chuckle rippled across his back.

"He is delicate, Touga--you're right. I'm almost surprised you can appreciate his type enough to find satisfaction, what with your pounding Saionji, and that infatuation with Tenjou." Akio moved his hands slowly over the smooth fabric of Miki's jacket.

Touga pulled out of the kiss, but kept his hands framing Miki's face, warm against his cool skin. Miki opened his eyes, expecting nothing but darkness, and found instead the deep glow of the planetarium. He looked up past the curtain of red hair and gasped.

"Yes," said Akio quietly, not moving except to slide one hand up to Miki's throat, resting against the high collar of his uniform. "My stars."

"But that isn't why we're here," said Touga, drawing his hand away from Miki's face as Akio's replaced it.

"I agree," said Akio, a few fingers brushing across Miki's mouth.

"Fine bit of silk here," said Touga, taking a sleek blue scarf from the back of a couch. "Kanae's?"

"Her mother's." Akio left one hand on Miki's throat and reached out with the other. "May I?"

"Of course." Touga handed him the scarf, and Akio passed it over Miki's eyes and knotted it, carefully smoothing down the silky blue hair.

"What--" Miki started to exclaim, but Akio shushed him with a finger over his lips.

"There's no need for you to talk."

Miki reached up to his face, but Touga caught his hands, quite gently, and kissed his fingertips.

"Don't," he whispered.

"I see," Miki breathed.

Akio, still pressed behind him, slid his hand into Miki's breast pocket, fingers just strong enough to send a shock of sensation through his nipple, and pulled out his stopwatch, and turned it over in his palm.

"Sometimes I wonder if you know too much," he murmured in Miki's ear, then looked up at Touga, who took a breath and let his jacket fall open. "I will not neglect you, dear President, I promise. But you have brought me a gift worthy of inspection." He slid his hand under Miki's chin, forced his head back, and ran his fingertips around the high collar of the uniform until the boy shivered under his touch. "Undo it." Slowly, obediently, Miki reached for the first clasp of his uniform. "Don't worry. I won't hurt you." Akio slid his free arm around Miki's waist, still dangling the stopwatch from his other hand, and then, when Miki had undone everything, tugged the front of his jacket open and bared the nape of his neck. Then he looped the cord of the stopwatch around Miki's throat and knotted it securely. "There, wouldn't want to lose that." He ran his fingers along the trim of the jacket. "Let it fall."

Heavy white fabric sloughed to the floor with a clatter of trim and epaulets. Touga watched, smiling.

Akio slid both his arms around Miki's bare chest and hugged him close into thin, warm red silk, and Miki, senses heightened, smelled roses. Then, with a little bend in his legs and terrible ease, Akio hoisted Miki half a foot off the floor, and Miki gasped and clutched at his elbows, and Touga, understanding perfectly, knelt to pull off Miki's shoes and socks, and then ran his hands all the way up Miki's slender legs and the perfect creases of his blue trousers, and Miki's bare feet clutched at midair.

"How heavy is he?"

"He's all muscle, even if he is little." Touga brushed Miki's bare stomach, and the boy shivered, then laid his head against Akio's shoulder and tried to breath against the arms around his ribs--and his breath caught again, and he squirmed a little, as Touga slowly undid his pants and peeled them slowly off, running his hands all the way back down. "A whipcord boy." Akio murmured as he set him gently back down and ran his hands down thin bare arms. "Shall I bind you?" he murmured, and felt Miki flinch. "No? Then I will not. It would have been lovely though. Some people manage to look exquisite while they're struggling. Somehow I suspect you're one of them. Am I right, Touga?"

Miki didn't hear an answer, because Touga just smiled.

"It's in the form of your body. So slender and expressive. Don't worry. I wouldn't damage such well-crafted a thing." His hands roamed as he spoke, as if to arouse every nerve to Miki's exposed skin. "But wake it up so it can shine? That..." with his hand sliding down his bare thigh, then reaching beyond him to draw Touga closer. "That I intend." Naked now but for his little white briefs--and lanyard, and blindfold--Miki shivered as Touga nuzzled his crotch through the cotton, his hair cascading against his thighs. Familiar, that; how Touga loved wrenching every pleasure he could out of him with his mouth. Not familiar, the man behind him, and those hands even stronger and warmer than Touga's. One running right around the elastic on his stomach, where his skin was far, far too sensitive, even more so for his blindness, until he bucked and whimpered in his grip.

"But, oh, dear," Akio purred in his ear. "Are we moving too fast for you?"

"I--"

"Hush. Don't worry." He could feel the warmth of his breath. "I didn't meant to frighten you."

Touga moved back, and stood, and touched his finger to his lips.

 

 

00:04:31

 

 

There were still two teacups on the table, empty, and the broken handle of a third. Miki's hair and the scarf over his eyes shone an eerie deep blue in the starlight, and his bared chest seemed impossibly slender and pale next to the wide line of Akio's skin that showed under his open shirt.

"Here." Akio laid Miki down on the couch, face-up across his lap, with sheer tenderness, and ran a strong brown hand down one bare arm before letting it dangle to the floor. "Relax for a while. I have things to tell you."

At a glance from Akio, Touga sat down across from them, and picked up a teacup, and swirled the dregs, and watched, his blood pounding in his ears.

"You must think I am such an evil man," Akio said quietly, his voice purring in the vast silence of his planetarium. "The President here thinks I am. He has seen more of me than you have, I would say, but you have seen enough. Hush now and listen." He touched Miki's lips with one finger, then smoothed his hair. "You don't need to answer yet. I manipulated you into that duel, after all. You must be aware of everything I set to lead you there. You are not here tonight in punishment because you lost, Kaoru Miki. I wanted you to lose. I hoped with all my heart that you would fight, and fight well and with all your strength, and lose. Every duel she wins strengthens her, forges her sword into something more powerful, and that is what I wish to do for her."

Touga narrowed his eyes, because Akio had told him something else, just a little while back.

"But I am an evil man, Miki. I know myself all too well." Akio was resting his hand on the boy's shoulder now, as if to feel every little tremor that ran through his body. "What I've done to your family is barely a fragment of what I can do to one I truly love--one of my own family, perhaps. You're a well-read young man. You must know what the other name of Venus is, the morning star that gave me my name."

"Lucifer," Miki whispered, and Akio set two fingers against his lips, and Touga tapped a fingernail against the teacup, very softly.

"There are some days I can't stand myself. When I sicken myself, and hate myself with an intensity that I can't endure." Akio brushed his fingers down Miki's chest, toyed with the stopwatch, then spidered his hand over his heart, as if to draw out a silver rapier. "You have a heart that yearns for purity. So did I, once. Perhaps I still do. And that sometimes turns life into agony. I think you understand." Miki shivered, and Akio dug his nails in, just a little, then lifted his hand. "Be still. There used to be monks who would flagellate themselves for their sins, beat themselves until they bled, because they couldn't stand themselves. There are some days I understand them." Akio paused, looked up, met narrowed and frozen blue eyes for a moment, then returned his gaze to Miki's blindfolded face. "That's what Touga's for, what he can be for me." Akio's voice faded to a whisper. "So on those days I can brace myself against the wall and tell him, beg him, to whip me as hard as he can." Miki's shudder became a flinch and a gasp. "It's still now just a little uncomfortable to sit, from the last time." Akio shifted, as if in demonstration, so that his erection ground into the small of Miki's back.

Touga, expressionless, ran his finger around the rim of the teacup, and set it back on its saucer, and stretched out so his jacket fell further open, baring his skin to the empty dark air.

"I said earlier that I thought you understood." Akio's voice was a little louder now, and with just a touch of hardness, cruelty; and he ran his hand down Miki's arm again and took hold of his wrist, the fine bones and speeding pulse cradled against his palm. "I know everything that goes on at this school, Miki." The other wrist. "I know how long you have been letting Touga here play with you." So he could draw them both over Miki's head as he spoke, transfer them to one hand, pin them there against the couch cushions. "I know who teaches you piano, or guides you, rather, since you taught yourself so many years ago." He touched Miki's fingertips with his own, and watched them tremble. "Such fine hands. Don't worry, I'll be sure not to hurt them. I also know what else that teacher does with you."

Akio had been so very careful to pin him securely before he said that. It was then, just as he expected, that Miki struggled, not with all his strength, but enough that his wrists beat against Akio's hand and his back strained in an arch and his legs trembled; it was then that he let out a low gasp, loud in the silence, bearing all the emotion of a scream. Touga set the broken handle on the saucer beside the cup and lowered his head and watched them intently, hard and disgusted.

"No," Miki whispered, close to a sob. "You can't know. Please--"

"Take it back? Unlearn what I know of you? There's no cleaning what's been spoiled. You know that. But hush." Three fingers over his mouth, and Miki tried to shake them off with almost animal fear. "I don't want to gag you." At that, Miki froze, and made a little keening whimper in the back of his throat, and Akio patted his hair soothingly. "And you gave yourself to me so willingly at first. So dutiful towards a man you knew so little of, and towards your President. One of the things I wish to instill in the students here at my academy is an understanding of the consequences of their actions. It's an important step towards independence and maturity, after all, which is, in turn, the ultimate goal of education." Akio brushed Miki's throat with one fingertip, feeling him flinch as far away from the touch as he could. "I do make it a point to know everything about my students, particularly the notable ones, and you are quite notable. Now you know something about me that nobody else except Touga does. I suppose it might be a frightening weapon against me, were you prone to blackmail. How the Chairman begs a handsome student to flog him when the pains of adulthood overwhelm him. Should I have told you how excited it makes me when he does that? No. I think you understand." Akio trailed that one finger slowly down Miki's chest, over his sternum, over the soft dimple of his solar plexus, over the flat, smooth muscles of his belly that clenched and trembled at his touch; then, so small a motion, he hooked it under the elastic of his briefs. "I am not the first one here."

Touga nearly shed his jacket on the couch, then shivered.

"And that's why I know you'll never speak of tonight," Akio said, softly, tenderly, and began to pull down. "You're so pure, on the outside. The illusion is so perfect. And half truth, I suppose. You've never taken anybody, just been taken. You're a virgin with the girls, if not with men--as well you should be, at your age. Yet you're still debauched and broken." The stopwatch rose and fell with Miki's breath, desperately fast. "So perfect on the outside, such a fine mind, such a fine achiever. You must treasure that so much. So kind and intelligent and innocent--almost inhumanly perfect. Why, you blush like a child when my sister looks at you. Such pure young love is refreshing to see, especially in one like you. I can hardly believe you're so young. Only thirteen, yet such a flawless exterior, such a perfect and charming facade...and within, such corruption."

Akio left Miki's underwear at his knees and slid his hand back up his thigh.

"But I suppose you didn't need me to tell you all this. You must tell yourself, every night. Curse yourself. Whore. Catamite. Curse yourself for letting it happen. You must think it's all your fault." He laughed softly. "Maybe it is. Do you feel you must submit?"

The doors opened, so quietly that Miki didn't hear.

"Blue," Akio whispered, touching one of the thin curls. "They say a blue rose is impossible, that it doesn't exist. But my sister waters them every day."

Touga did hear, and turned, and shuddered.

"Well, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. I've seen natural blue just like this before, and you are her twin..."

"Don't!" Miki bucked against his hand, still pinned, and the one word was an abject plea.

"So I've finally found your breaking point? The one place I cannot touch?"

"Why are you doing this?"

"You shouldn't have spoken, Miki, and thus I'm not going to answer you."

Touga placed both teacups to one side of the table, and his hand trembled on the second as he watched the person who waited by the doorway, and the broken-off handle slid to the floor with a clatter.

"Leave her alone! I don't care what you do to me," and Miki's voice nearly broke on those words, "just leave her alone!"

"You don't care?" Akio said, perfectly calmly; and slid his hand around Miki's half-hard cock and whispered, as if it had nothing to do with what he'd said, "Such a brave boy."

Touga stood.

In one swift move, Akio wrestled Miki out of his lap and forced him face-down over the table, his knees tangled together with his underwear, and for a moment he was free and fighting, and then Touga grabbed his wrists and stretched his arms over the smooth whitewashed wood and pinned him there, and the stopwatch settled with a heavy clunk.

"Be careful, Mr. President," Akio murmured. "Those are the hands of a musician." He bent low over Miki, rested one hand between his shoulder blades. "Take comfort. I have no more use for your sister."

Touga leaned forward, his hair cascading like heavy silk around Miki's head and the trim of his uniform clattering to the table, and Akio tilted his head and stretched out his tongue like a cat, and, for a moment, they kissed.

"And don't worry," said Akio, pulling back and running his hand down Miki's back, over his ass, over the smooth muscles of his thighs. "You're only a whore, not a devil like me. You don't have to bleed."

"Unless you want to," said the person standing by the door, and the starlight gleamed off of her glasses so they became twin full moons, and then she turned away without disgust.

Miki's breath caught in his throat at her voice.

"Himemiya?"

Touga bowed his head, and saw Miki's face half in profile beneath him, where his cheek was turned to the tabletop, and then closed his eyes.

The first smack of Akio's hand rang like gunfire off of the distant walls. Miki outright screamed.

"Himemiya!"

The door closed behind her, and the elevator bell rang, only for the second time.

Silence stretched; Touga held still, and Miki went limp against the table, still but for the slight shaking of his shoulders. Touga looked up, briefly, and Akio's smile was slight, calm, and purely satisfied, and the brown hand, stark contrast to Miki's pale skin, was just a few inches over from the fading red imprint. Silence stretched; fine blue silk grew wet.

"Do you want it?" Akio asked at last, very gently.

"Do it," Miki choked out, only a minute later.

 

 

00:02:17

 

 

Akio smiled like a well-fed tiger as he pulled onto the open highway and revved the engine, with Touga languid in the passenger's seat and a little book on blood types and compatibility tossed carelessly between the seats.

"What on earth is that for?" Touga asked, after the speedometer had settled.

"The book? You'll see in a little while, I suspect."

"And what was that for?"

"Miki?" Akio leaned one elbow out of the car and practically sprawled in the seat. "I thought you just wanted me to have a little fun."

"I didn't mean for you to torture him."

"Sixteen blows is hardly torture, Mr. President. Even counting the first."

"You know what I mean. What you said to him. You tore him apart."

"One of the things that I like is to know the entire person, to bring everything about them into the game of the moment. It's so much more intimate that way. I touched every part of him--every part of his soul. And he asked in the end. I wasn't entirely sure he would."

"You manipulated him into it."

"He still asked."

"I'm surprised he can still live as he normally does, after what you did to him. I thought you might have broken him."

"And are we not seeking revolution?" Akio laughed softly, and let a while pass before answering again. "Don't you know how strong and deliberate his outer face is? He will always live as he normally does. Besides, if I meant to break him, I would have hurt his hands. Haven't you ever understood a musician?"

Unsettled by his implied failure, Touga closed his eyes and leaned back, not even daring to ask so soon whether Akio really meant to bear him to the duel named Revolution, how much he really meant to strengthen Utena's heart and why, and almost sure of the answer anyway; and they drove without speaking for a long minute or two, the wind searing over their faces.

"And what if I did mean to break him?" Akio said softly.

Silence but for the purring of the engine. Touga raised his head and eyed Akio's inexpressive profile, turning his head only a little so his hair wouldn't whip across his face.

"At this stage," Akio went on, "it may become necessary to get most of the current duelists out of the way at a moment's notice, lest they interfere with certain things. So I shatter their worlds, so that, if I needed to remove them, they would be vulnerable to it."

"Really," said Touga, suppressing a thrill of absolute terror.

"Do you hesitate?"

"Hardly. I...merely wouldn't have guessed that you were planning to do such a thing."

"The duel named Revolution is fast approaching. Whether it is you or Utena who faces that last trial, I wouldn't want the rest of them meddling."

"I see." Another long pause. "So what do you plan to do about the others?"

"An old friend of Juri's plans to return to the school shortly. He ought to manage things nicely, though he's a decent enough fellow and will have little idea of what I want of him. As for Nanami... I think it's time for her to realize that you were adopted."

Ever so subtle a stress on you. And there was still that little book by the gearshift. Touga's eyes widened, though only the wind made them water.

"If you're planning to do this consistently, Mr. Chairman, you are going to have to break Miki's fingers."

"And damage your toy, Mr. President? No, what I've done to him should be sufficient. You don't know the half of it, after all."

Touga looked at him again, and turned to far, and his vision was washed away by his hair, beating harshly against his face. He bowed his head and let it engulf him, uncaring for the tangle.

"And Saionji?"

"Isn't he yours?"

"And myself?"

"Why would I hurt my allies?"

"And how do I know I'm really your ally?"

"What do you want?"

Touga was silent.

"I wish I could give it to you," Akio said, with a tone of almost genuine compassion. "You will get another chance with her, you know. I can promise you that much. She won't take it, but you'll have it. You'll be able to tell her your feelings, and pray she isn't so cold-hearted a princess as to disbelieve you."

"I..." Touga whispered from the welter of his hair. "I understand."

And Akio shifted into overdrive, and the car roared off into the night.

 

 

00:00:55

 

 

"Miki, you're shivering."

"I can't get warm."

The sound of one bare foot on the floor, then two: Kozue, standing in the gap between their beds.

Blue.

"Even with the blankets?"

"I can't get warm."

He felt frozen from head to foot, toes numb, chest cold to his heart even with pajamas and two blankets. Earlier his rear had at least still been warm and burning; even that had cooled now, and he was iced through. The closet door opened. Something dropped on top of him, landed on his shoulder where he lay curled tight on his side.

"Then put on your sweater. Idiot."

Said with that distant, Kozue sort of affection.

Coward.

He sat up, his shivers redoubling as he was forced to leave the covers, and pulled the bulky old sweater on over his pajamas. His mother had knitted it, his real mother, years ago.

That voice.

As if she had turned into a banshee, to haunt all the parts of his life that nobody could see. That voice. Mother so soon. Unless you want to. She wasn't like that. He couldn't believe that she was. But. Oh, god. She'd seen him. There. Then. Naked with her brother.

He pulled the covers up again, curled up again, let the sweater warm him.

"Miki, you're still shivering." She hadn't gone back to her bed.

"My toes are cold."

A drawer opened.

"Then wear your socks. Idiot." Kozue affection. She dropped them on his head. Clean ones, at least. He sat up, again, still shivering, to put them on, and finally dared to look at her, a little, in the light from the setting moon. Her face was in shadow. Just tank top and panties. She always slept that way these days, with her slender legs bare.

Blue.

"Miki, why is your stopwatch around your neck?"

He choked back a whimper, and drew the covers all the way over his head, shivering down in a nest of blankets and socks and yarn, finally beginning to thaw. Silence. She didn't get back into bed. He didn't answer.

"Idiot."

He thought of the expression on Touga's face, poleaxed and wanting, and the way he panted and sweated as Akio had fucked him, holding a damp blue scarf in one hand, over that same table, while he'd watched too overwhelmed and aching to move.

That voice.

"Miki..."

He thought of Touga, whispering, ever so quietly, as he drew the scarf back over his eyes. He controls everybody, Miki. Even the Rose Bride.

"Did somebody hurt you?"

He thought of how they'd both come to him then; and he thought of coming, harder than ever before, under two wicked mouths and two teasing, tormenting, restraining pairs of hands.

A tang of suspicion in her voice. Anger. Protectiveness. A wild animal with young.

"No."

He had to lie. He had to lie so often. She'd pushed his teacher down the stairs, after all. He had to lie. Kozue would never survive pushing Ohtori Akio down the stairs.

What I've done to your family, Ohtori Akio had said.

A little creak. She'd finally gone back to bed. What was that they said about honest people always believing liars?

Even the Rose Bride.

"Kozue..."

"What?"

"This is your sweater. The sleeve is torn."

Silence.

Blue.

"I don't care."

 

 

00:00:26

 

 

"You are the devil," Touga whispered, as they pulled up before the tower in the wee hours of the morning.

"And yet..." Akio didn't answer him in full until they'd reached the observatory, and Touga had to pause a moment to recognize what he meant. "You still serve me, and speak with me, and lie with me."

"I never said I was much better than you," said Touga, after that pause, as Akio strode back out over that open space. The tear-streaked scarf was still abandoned on the tea table; they'd sent Miki home, of course, trembling and unable to look at either of them.

"Shall I beat you tonight, then?" said Akio genially as he folded up the silk and stuffed it in his pocket. Touga froze where he stood for a moment, then laughed, long and bitter and languid, and came out to join him.

"I've never heard you use that story before."

"Oh, it was effective enough, don't you think?"

"You almost made me feel too sinful to stand it."

"And? Did I make you wish to make lies truth?"

Touga looked away.

"I know I never could."

"Because you think I have no regrets?"

Silence, and Touga looking out the windows at the lights of the city until the shutters wound closed.

"You're just deliberately confusing me now," he said finally.

"Such a good student in my ways."

"I can't imagine you'd actually enjoy it. Besides, I...couldn't."

"Such a strict boy," Akio whispered.

Silence, and Touga looking at the floor now.

"But, for the moment, you're quite right, Mr. President. I have no regrets tonight."

"I'd deserve it," Touga murmured, "for bringing him to you."

Akio stopped an inch away from Touga, half-spanned his throat with one hand, whispered in his ear: "Do you want me to touch your soul, too? To tear it apart? To break your shell?"

"I think I'll save that for the duel. Or the revolution."

"The apocalypse is eternal."

Silence, and the sound of fasteners coming loose, and a few ragged breaths.

"Hurt me," Touga whispered, hoarse with an agony that Akio had never inflicted, and then Anthy left silently, to unpin her hair and set her glasses on Utena's night-stand.

 

 

00:00:15

 

 

Conclusions: Most important events after this incident, particularly concerning the other members of the Student Council, are a matter of public record. One, however, is not. Three days later, Kaoru Miki sent Kiryuu Touga a brief and perfunctory note, stating simply that anything but a professional relationship between them was no longer a possibility. Touga was somewhat surprised and somewhat disappointed, but at least had the good graces to ask Akio whether that particular result was intended before blaming him for his loss. For his part, Miki was quite surprised, and only a little bit disappointed, that Touga yielded and left him after a mere letter. It might also be noted that it was rather longer before he made even a preliminary move toward confronting his piano teacher. But it must always be remembered that the duel named Revolution was fast approaching.

 

 

00:00:00

 

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