Wednesday, June 13, 2012

2012 Utena / Penguindrum Fanfic – Seinen Kakumei Utena, Part Five

Seinen Kakumei Utena (it's Seinen, NOT Josei), crossing with Penguindrum starting Part 2
Rating: T for mature and sensitive subject matters.

Genres: Real Life Problems, Yuri, Female Empowerment, Trans Man, Yaoi, Male Rape, Surreal Symbolism
Timeline: 10 years post Revolution, a few weeks post Fate Train Transfer
Notable Chars:  Trans Utena, shadow boys "K-taro" and "S-taro" (do you really need to ask who they are?)
Notable "Mysteries" Covered: Nemuro Hall, Child Broiler, Million Swords, Fate Train, Shadow Girls, Invisible People
Summary (or rather, Excerpt): “The revolution succeeded; it crumbled afterwards only because those whose lives got revolutionized did not follow up on the revolutionary success,” said the Bride, her words setting their closed hearts aflame. “This time, will you help us help you?”

After what seems like an eternity of non-fic writing, I have again written something in tribute of this timeless shoujo anime classic.  This is a work dedicated to the passionate, wonderful people at In the Rose Garden (fic thread here), which even now remains the coolest place for Utena fans to hang out online.

Other sites hosting this fic includes:

On to the fic:
Seinen Kakumei Utena

Utena and its characters belong to its various owners. 

WARNING: Parts of this work contain depictions of transphobia, controversial shoujo fantasy trans situation that in no way reflects real life trans people, and misogynic magic attack leading to forced masculinization

Part Five: Prince, Interrupted - Main II

The water, crisp cold against his skin, was running so soundly by now that he was slowly but surely drifting out of his slumber.

Opening his eyes anew, he saw, to his great unsurprise, that same white, sterile ceiling – a sight that was starting to look awfully familiar to him after the past couple of days . . . or had it been weeks already?  He could not say, being so out of it at the time when they picked him up and took him in; he had been in a constant daze since.

For, in return for their hospitality, they had taken the core of his being from him, leaving his already brittle mind in fragmented pieces.

No, that was not a statement he should make, not even if only in his thoughts unvoiced; he surrendered himself to them willingly; because that somebody he once loved (and still would’ve loved, had things turned out differently) had helped him, and now needed his help; and the only way he could help his love, as he was now, was to give them his strength such that it became their strength, so they might better face the hurdles ahead.

The very first of such hurdles – perhaps the highest one yet in the series to come – would be for the one he loved to face them.

He himself knew, first hand, how old acquaintances were the toughest to face during a downhill moment in life; plenty were those who once would give up arms and legs to be termed as his friends, who then showed neither interest nor mercy towards him when they crossed paths in recent years. Liar and hypocrite that he was, he pushed his love into the lion’s den that he himself feared to tread, telling her that the old gang will accept what she became – all so she can “get help” (in spite of the pains he knew she would suffer under such “helpers” – all for a straw’s chance at her salvation). 

“ . . . only a fool believes . . .”


Murmur cut off by the soft, mousy chirp, he turned his head to see an urgent-looking Chu-Chu pushing at his bared shoulder with a warm paw, as if willing him to get up.  He sighed.

“Your owner now carry my might, so there’s no need for me to go out there to help; you need not fret.”

“Chu!”  The intelligent creature shook his head frantically, and gestured at the rushing water rising steadily around him up the porcelain dent.  “Chu!  Chu!”

“Troubled as it is, this water is only a metaphor – it can’t hurt me,” he explained to the creature, knowing that it would understand, “after all, one cannot drown twice in the same sorrows.”  No, one could only rot and dissolve underneath that which he could not escape; losing form, sinking downwards . . .  

“Chu . . .” Chu-Chu sat at the edge of the porcelain and looked at him with his beady eyes, refusing to move.

“Just won’t leave me alone, will you?”  Somewhat touched by the creature’s persistent concern (how much more simple and sincere were animals compared to people), he raised a wet hand, and petted the animal’s head like he would a naïve child.  He remembered now: he once was a boy who loved animals.  Even as an older teen masked underneath a sophisticated front, he had gushed over receiving something as simple as a pet cat; it was only after that happened, after everything that followed, that he forgot about pets, forgot about animals, forgot about everything but the bottomless abyss he had been falling endlessly down for the past ten years.  “Well then, how to pass time, kid?”  A languid, bittersweet smirk came upon his sultrily curved lips.  “I know, how about a story?  Let me tell you . . . there once were two little victims who thought they would always help each other to go on living, and they came upon another little victim grieving alone in the night.

“ ‘Being alive is so sickening,’ said this lone little victim – a little girl whose parents died from a terrible event, who now hid herself in a strangely present coffin placed beside those of her dead parents. ‘How can people go on living when they know they will one day die?  Eternity doesn’t exist, so it’s all right now.  I'll just stay here in this coffin, never to come out into the sun again.’ 

“A disagreement broke out between the original two victims – boys suffering different abuses – regarding what they should do with this other victim – the orphaned girl: the more impulsive boy wanted to save the little girl by draggng her out of the coffin, while the worldlier boy knew to leave her be in her mad despair.  The little boys ended up arguing and leaving the little girl still in her coffin, with their own green friendship now sorely tested by one’s annoyance with the other, and the other’s sense of inadequacy. 

“The next morning, the little boys saw the little girl out and about attending her parents’ funeral, and took it as the girl having left her coffin.  Seizing the opportunity, the worldlier, craftier of the boys put on an act of having shown her something eternal; the other boy, impulsive and innocent, abruptly realized that they were no longer kindred spirits, that he was being left behind in victimhood . . . and the cracks in their once unmarred relationship started broadening into wide gaps. 

“Much later, the boys would, on the verge of manhood, discover that the girl they once thought was saved was in fact still inside her coffin; not only that, but the boys themselves too had remained trapped inside their own coffins of victimhood, through childhood and youth, for all those years.

“The boy victims, wanting to help break the girl out of her coffin, and wanting break out of their own coffins themselves, joined forces as they tried saving the girl their way; the girl, trapped but still very spirited, fought their help insisting that she did not need saving; she claimed that she was no longer a victim entrapped, but had instead become a coffin-breaker who could break open the accursed coffins keeping living victims dead and trapped.  The worldlier boy, seeing her coffin –and her attachment to the ones who kept her in it – clearly, called the girl a fool; the girl, unfazed, proudly admitted to being one, as she moved gloriously ahead with her coffin-breaking quest.  So impressed were the boys by the girl’s conviction and her power, that they were content to step back and let the girl take care of things; they believed, at the time, that this special, spectacular person could save herself; save them, save everyone all by herself.  

“ . . . but was that really such a good idea?”   


Being “special”, as Shinohara Wakaba had come to realize, was not all it was cracked up to be.

Up until yesterday afternoon, she had been leading a murkily mundane existence as one of the countless bottom dwellers at a sales-numbers-driven magazine.  It was not like she was living in despair or anything: her superiors were not especially harsh, nor her colleagues especially antagonistic; these people, like those from most other cooperate settings, were simply habitual takers – people who routinely take credit for all the extra work they make other people do, in ways at once thoughtless and mechanical.  Working with them, she felt like a cog in a vast construct – just a handy tool there for the more “special” people in the company (the so-and-so’s sons, and daughters, and nephews, and nieces . . .) to make use of – with the keeping of a dead-end, low-wage job her only reward reaped.

Then came her boss, walking up to her desk with a gazed-over look in his tiny eyes, telling her that a “Himemiya-san from Château Princesse” is waiting for her down at the lobby’s information desk, and that she can take as long as was needed entertaining this guest, even calling the rest of the day off.  Seeing all those life-deadened eyes around the open office now sparkling with envy as they glared heatedly upon her, the young woman almost thought it had just been announced that she was getting to entertain the U.S. First Lady.

“Haven’t you been reading our own magazine at all, Shinohara?” snapped a (particularly gossipy) colleague at her question as to what the fuss was about.  “The woman had been spotted at almost all the major high society balls for the past month!  Rumor has it that she is a top courtesan who has all the power players of the financial district eating out of her hand; remember that apocalyptic stock market plunge from two weeks ago? They say she’s the one behind it, raking in the big bucks while countless seasoned investment firms go bankrupt!  I swear, Shinohara, if you keep on drifting through life like this, you’ll remain always a leaf and never a flower . . .”

Riding the elevator down to the lobby (all the while checking her own reflection on the mirror walls as she quickly wiped the sweat-grease off her nose), Wakaba found herself feeling more than a little fretful over the upcoming meeting.  Of course she remembered Himemiya Anthy: that subdued, dowdy girl at Ohtori whom all the boys – including the Kendo Club Captain she liked at the time – were strangely attracted to; whom all the girls hated . . . except for her tomboy best friend at the time, who actually got into a fight with her over her accidentally splashing the dark girl.  Just what kind of stunning flower had that bespectacled yet bewitching kid blossomed into?

The elevator doors parted, giving her an unobstructed view of the information desk, and the one currently waiting for her there.

Hourglass figure delicately wrapped under an elegant dress that Wakaba knew would cost more than her annual income (that was excluding the tasteful, matching designer’s handbag and shoes), the grown up Himemiya Anthy positively glittered despite a stark absence of jewelry.  Naturally heavily lashed green eyes (revealed to be exquisite now that they were no longer masked under plain-Jane glasses) narrowed in a serene smile, the dark beauty bowed lightly at her; Wakaba, awed by her old school mate’s stunning presence, quickly bowed back and hurried up to the woman.

Leading her to settle down at an elegant café down the block (all the while smilingly nodding at her nervous, cutesy babbling about how gorgeous the woman now was, how sexy her hair looked half up half down, how expensive her handbag must be, and all that pointless crap), Himemiya cut straight to the point right after the waiter had taken their orders:

“Shinohara-san, Utena needs your help.”

Wakaba’s eyes widened at her words.  “Utena . . . sama?”  So, Tenjou Utena, her best friend from childhood and youth who left Ohtori without telling her, still had kept in touch with Himemiya after all.  Had Utena really thought of her as a best friend, Wakaba wondered, or was she to Ohtori’s star athlete but one insignificant fan girl out of the dozens, no one special at all?

“It’s not like that, Shinohara-san,” said Himemiya, startling the young woman who just got read like an open book.   “She got expelled from Ohtori under circumstances beyond her own control, and was left badly hurt; she could not have contacted you even if she had wanted to.”

“Utena-sama got hurt?” asked Wakaba, in surprise and genuine worry.  “What happened at the time?  There were so many rumors floating around school about her leaving, but nobody really knew for sure: I didn’t even know where to start looking for her, since she had no parents.  I thought about asking you, since you’ve somehow gotten so close to her at the time, but then you left too; and then . . .”

“. . . and then your father got transferred overseas, and your whole family moved with him out of the country.”  Himemiya continued her sentence for her, smoothly.  “After leaving, you wrote a few letters back to your friend Kazami Tatsuya, asking him if he heard anything about Utena’s whereabouts, but you never got any of his letters back; you’ve not contacted anyone from Ohtori since.”

Like stealth fingers, the woman’s words send chills creeping down Wakaba’s spine.  “How’d you know all that?”

Himemiya’s eyes – trained upon her – were soft with empathy.  “Kazami-san never got your letters, Shinohara-san: Ohtori had an invasive mail-scanning system in place; no letter can get past its walls without my brother’s approval.”

“The Acting Chairman . . .” Wakaba remembered the man to be strikingly handsome and charming; to the point that she envied Utena for getting to stay with him courtesy of her friendship with Himemiya.   “But why would he do something like checking through students’ letters?  What is he . . .” and just like that, she suddenly remembered her instinctive distrust of the peculiar Himemiya from all those years ago, “. . . what’re you?”

“My brother is someone who needs to be stopped, and I plan to stop him,” replied Himemiya, not exactly answering her question.  “Utena getting hurt ten years ago, Kazami-san being exploited since . . . he is the one behind it, reaping the benefits born of their pains.  Shinohara-san, will you help Utena and I destroy him once and for all?” 

Wakaba found her head swimming from the onslaught of jarring info.  “Tatsuya’s being exploited . . . how?  And Utena . . .wait.”  Only now did her brain started processing the woman’s actual request.  “Destroy your brother?  Like how . . . kill him?  And for what, invasion of student privacy?  Shouldn’t you people go to the police if he’s doing something nifty?  Or did he . . .” Her babble trailed off at seeing Himemiya produce a black velvet box from her handbag.

“Perhaps this can help you better understand.” Himemiya pushed the box across the table and at her.  “Here, Shinohara-san.”

“What’s this?” Taking the box, Wakaba opened it to find a torn, wrinkled envelope.  Reaching into it, she pulled out a small, water-stained note written in Tatsuya’s boyish, slightly rigid handwriting:

I’m almost transparent to you; you can hardly see me.
I don’t want to become invisible; I won’t just become nothing.
I will be seen; if not by you, then by everyone else around you.

“This is a letter that Kazami-san sent you a month after you left,” supplied Himemiya, her voice sounded miles away to Wakaba’s ear, so focused was the young woman on the note. “It got intercepted by one of my brother’s ex-helpers, one whom I’ve come across only years afterwards.  By that time, what’s done to him had been done.”

“What is Tatsuya talking about here?” Wakaba was feeling hopelessly lost now.  “I don’t understand-” A slight, shuffling sound caught her attention.  Glancing down, she noticed, for the first time, that the inside of the velvet box had a cushioning of small, dark rose buds.  Impossibly, those rose buds now were rapidly blossoming in animated vortexes of ink-black petals; a lighter-colored rose, budding in the middle, spread its green petals to reveal not a flower’s heart, but rather, a leaf-shaped hair clip handcrafted from wood . . .

. . . standing under an inverted castle, upon an arena in the sky, pointing the sword she robbed from Saionji-sempai at her “Utena-sama”, who was never even her friend to begin with.  See?  There she was in her non-regular, mock-Student-Council uniform, defending that witch/bitch/cunt who took away her everything without even having to try . . . 

Screaming, Wakaba scrambled backwards and away from the table, backing until her back hit the glass window wall, against which she now was trapped.  “Y-You  . . you!  Saionji-sempai . . . Utena-sama . . . I . . .” Still seated, Himemiya pinned the traumatized young woman to her spot with her steady gaze.

“I apologize for having to make you remember that, Shinohara-san, but you need to understand: my brother is a monster above the laws of your world.  Only a chosen few have what it takes to bring him down, and you’re one of them.”

Even amidst the current eerie circumstance, being termed as “chosen” made Wakaba tingle inside.  “But  . . . Himemiya-san, I mean . . .you were . . .”

“Indeed I was the one behind your pains at the time, manipulating you against Utena on my brother’s orders,” admitted the woman, readily.  “But I am his slave no longer – Utena had freed me from that.  Since I’ve finally managed to find her three years ago, Utena and I have been helping each other to go on living.”

“Then it took you seven years to find her,” murmured Wakaba.  So, even Himemiya got separated from Utena for many years prior to their reunion – it wasn’t like the other woman was any closer to her best friend as she herself was, thought a still very juvenile part of her with much pleasure.

“But there is no living for Utena as she is right now,” Himemiya spoke on, giving no hint of having detected Wakaba’s childish gleefulness, “not unless I can defeat my brother, and take from him the power to reverse the hurt that Utena now is suffering under.  And there is Kazami-san too, who succumbed to the same darkness as you once did, and has remained enslaved by my brother since.  Lately, I’ve been doing a number of things to weaken the Ohtori Clan’s – my brother’s main backers – influence over Japan's financial and political worlds, just to lower the number of his goons here in this outside world; but as to his actual powers . . .”

Tenjou Utena, her school idol best friend from ten years ago, in trouble and now waiting for her help; Kazami Tatsuya, her white bread guy childhood friend, also in trouble, also needing her help; Himemiya Anthy, a wealthy and powerful . . . whatever she was, came to her asking for help . . .

“Shinohara-san,” Himemiya leaned forward, her stance all business-like in its formality.  “You are one of those few special people who can withstand the Light of the World; this means that you have the potential to be a Duelist – a fighter capable of delivering damage to even one like my brother.  I’ve since recruited most of the former Student Council, plus some others, towards the cause; if you’re willing to join us . . .” The woman went on to talk about how she had already taken measures to maximize the Duelists’ safety in the upcoming battle, and how they shall all be sumptuously rewarded for their efforts . . . Wakaba could only make out a few disjointed words here and there, so heady was she by the revolutionizing revelation revealed.

Even flowers need their leaves to stay in bloom – Shinohara Wakaba is every bit as special as those rich, blooming elites whom she had envied for her entire life.

“ . . . already agreed to hire you as junior editor; as for that romance serial novel you’ve been pitching for years, there’ll be a literary agent coming in contact with you within the month-”

“I’ll do it,” proclaimed Wakaba, feeling so empowered at the moment that she would have agreed to slay dragons on the spot.  “Let me be the one to help Utena-sama!”

Which brought her to here and now, huddled fearfully against more notable former schoolmates as they all gawked stupidly at the large, pulsing cluster of outward-pointing swords – buried underneath which was her no longer female adolescent best friend – and the conveniently blank dinning room wall upon which shadowy, humanoid forms acted out as if on stage:

Long time no see, our dear old fans!
Do you know?
                        Do you know?
                                    Do you wonder what we know?
            The ugly frogs!
                        The handsome princes!    
                                    They actually have something very much in common!
That’s right!
            Frogs and Princes alike . . .
They’ll both undergo metamorphosis under the right circumstances!
            Take the White Horse Prince! (waved cardboard carousel horse)
                        Don’t you mean Prince on a White Horse?
            Anyway . . . !  He thought he’d stay noble to the very end, fighting dragons, dating princesses . . . BUT! (produced cardboard girl with multiple swords sticking into her like pins)
            Meh sister, no!
            Seeing his own sister destroyed by the people he once protected with his life was just too much for him, the poor thing; and so, he became . . . the Devil Prince! (waved cardboard horned devil wearing prince’s crown and garb)
Meh Prince, no!
                                    And the Girl Prince! (waved cardboard girl in crown and prince garb)
                        Don’t you mean the Tomboy Prince?
Anyway . . . ! She was the lone girl on the boys’ team, attracting girls, attracting men . . . BUT! (produced cardboard “devil prince” plus carboard bloom-wielding witch, who both proceeded to plummet the girl prince)
                                    My Prince, no!  My Witch, double no!
Getting bitch-slapped by her man, then back-stabbed by her woman was apparently too much for the poor girl; and so, she became . . . the Trans Prince! (cardboard girl was now placed such that it rode the phallic mic between her legs)
Meh Prince, no!
                        And . . . (lifting a toilet seat amidst sounds of drum roll) . . . last but not least-

The crisp sound of clapping cut off the hypnotic shadow play’s momentum, irreparably, thus allowing for the Ohtori group to recover their wits as they turned towards Himemiya, now applauding the shadows with a scorching glint within her smiling eyes.

“I had an inking that you three would come for us in spite of the barriers guarding this place,” she said, “and you did.   Bra-vo.” 

Watching those Shadow Girls (as she had come to call them), Wakaba abruptly remembered that she had seen these ghostly entities from long ago, back in Ohtori, back when she had easily accepted them as part of the school’s semi-surreal reality.  How did she ever manage to forget about them, she wondered; something this surreal, this strikingly . . . then she remembered the ease with which she had “forgotten” her best friend Utena but months after leaving Ohtori herself, and realized that it really was all to easy to forget anything not present in the here and now.    

“. . . you know we couldn’t resist coming,” said a Shadow Girl to Himemiya, all the while self-consciously twirling her own high tail, “that with like most of the main cast together again after our very looooong wait.”  

“You guys left the story hanging just when it was getting good!”  The pigtailed one hugged herself while spinning with a ballerina’s grace.  “There was battle, there was romance, there was revolution; and then . . . what, nothing?”

“Basically, we just can’t stand that so-called open ending,” drawled the remaining one adjusting the ribbon atop her curly-haired head. “What’s with the girl prince losing her grip on the witch princess just when things were starting to look so hopeful to us audiences?  And the way the sidekick characters were all so eager to forget the heroine, thus undermining a good chuck of her princely presence; our Utena-sama, who helped everyone throughout her heroic journey, had to metamorphose on her own at those unlicensed, underground clinics that left her body wrecked by aftereffects . . . and talking about wrecked, there’re the swords too.  For Utena-sama to have to go through all that, that’s just . . . wrong!”

“Wrong, indeed,” agreed Himemiya, her voice cool as an autumn stream running in the night, “is that why you’re again showing up to rub salt in our wounds by giving your lively takes on our misfortunes?”

The shadow girls actually looked somewhat embarrassed now. “Err . . .”

“The three of you have always thrived on the stories of others, even since back before you all got put through the Research; following Hoshimi-chan around as her personal entourage, mocking where you can, jabbing where it hurts . . .” Abruptly, Himemiya’s voice and expression both brightened up, such that she appeared cheerful as a cardboard sun.  “So, would you three like to listen to another story, one that’s even more riveting than our tale of old?”

“Another story?” The shadows were taken aback.  “But we already have our hands full making fun of yours-”

“We’ve got star-studded storytellers here ready to say their piece,” said Himemiya.  “Isn’t that right, Chida-san?”


Before Wakaba even had time to wonder where Chida-san’s voice was coming from, the edges of the wall the shadow girls were on suddenly darkened into what appeared to be a brilliant night sky, which quickly eclipsed inward such that the bright “shadow-play area” now was a surrounded “island” upon that dark, glittery space. Numerous figures now were coming out from within the starry zone: elegant Chida Tokiko, with a hesitant-looking Kozue by her side, and the penguins (there were four of them now) bumbling after two shadow-covered little boys (but somehow their hair and clothes remained clearly visible) now running up towards the Shadow Girls, who appeared to recoil in shock.

“W-Whoa . . . what?!”

“Nee-chans!” The boys (revealed to be eerie creatures with pitch-blank faces and flesh) ran right up to the edge of the “shadow-play area” in childlike exuberance.   “Do you know, do you know, do you wonder what we know?  That’s right, the apple is a gift for those who chose to die for love!”

“Apple?  What kinda metaphor is that?”

“Just hear us out: the apple is a universe in itself . . .”

“That should keep them occupied for a while yet,” eyes bright and feline-like, Chida-san walked up to beside Himemiya.  Adopting a gallant stance, the taller woman then hovered a delicate palm over the darker woman’s supple chest, with her other hand placed at the small of the latter’s back “Ready, Himemiya-san?” 

Nodding, Himemiya then arched backwards in an almost mechanical motion, and started glowing at the chest.  Amidst the bright rays and phantom winds suddenly engulfing the two, Chida-san drew back her palm, and two objects – a sword hilt and a sword blade – got pulled out of the light as if by invisible strings, the sight of which induced a gasp from Tsuwabuki-kun.

“I-Is that . . .”

“Utena’s soul sword,” Juri-sempai eyed the objects grimly, “snapped in half.”

Indeed, those were two halves of a broken sword, radiating a signature-like aura that Wakaba immediately recognized as that of her old friend; there was a melancholic sense of loss radiating off the damaged item, one that forced involuntary tears out of the young woman’s eyes.

“Utena-sempai told us earlier about Akio-san breaking her soul sword . . . no wonder; how tough she was to have survived even something like this,” murmured Miki-kun out loud; standing beside him, a now more sober-seeming Kozue narrowed her eyes at what was still emerging from within the light.  

“I see another sword coming out . . .”

Saionji-sempai and Kiryuu Nanami both widened their eyes at the new sword in spite of the light.

Kiryuu Touga’s soul sword, while whole unlike Utena’s, radiated sheer pain instead of melancholy.  Lower lip quivering, Nanami tried going up to the sword (now hovering in midair underneath Utena’s snapped blades), but Saionji-sempai held onto her.

“Wait . . .”

In front of everybody’s stunned eyes, Touga’s sword “melted” into a boiling liquid mass, one that quickly splashed upwards to engulf Utena’s broken weapon; in no time at all, a new, singular sword materialized out of the fluid metals, and Wakaba knew this new blade represented a strong bond – a togetherness beyond friendship, beyond love – between these stunningly special people.

Before the group had time to further dwell upon the implication of the merged soul sword, the shrill scrapping of metal against metal drew their attention towards the countless swords walling in Utena; whereas they were only pulsing sluggishly before, the swords now were sharpening their edges against each other in what appeared to be boiling bloodlust, as more and more of them started grinding their gleaming lengths out from what gaps there were between the blades.  Ghostly sounds, uttering coarse curses in innumerable overlapping voices, started to fill the air like the drones of a vast locust swarm:

. . . witch, butch, whore, catamite, sissy, girl-boy, boy-girl, freak  . . .

“The Million Swords shining with human hatred,” Chida-san, now grabbing the soul sword by its hilt and pointing it at the ever-growing mass of hate-filled blades, spoke in awe and contempt, “again they stir at the sight of a worthy prince’s sword.”  Still arched backwards against Chida-san’s hold, Himemiya reached a glowing hand up to the woman’s chest, and pulled from there another sword; judging by the vibes it gave, Wakaba judged it to also be two soul swords merged into one: Tokiko’s and Mikage’s.  Sleekly straightening up, Himemiya swished her sword down such that it’s point touched that of the Utena/Touga soul sword, with both soul swords now pointed towards the Million Swords; the hate-filled weapons all were soundly vibrating now, as they pointed back at the soul swords like loosened metal studs drawn by a strong magnet.  Despite her growing fear, Wakaba felt something hot budding within her chest, seemingly eager to burst out; she realized that she was not alone in feeling this way, as the others gathered were all displaying a peculiar expression that she knew to mirror hers.

“Duelists,” Himemiya called out to them, her hardened eyes never leaving the increasingly animated pile of hate-filled swords, “draw your swords, and touch their tips to ours.”

“W-What?” Wakaba could not believe her ears; the others looked equally shocked by the woman’s request as well.

“All Duelists O’ Black Rose or otherwise, draw. Your. Swords!”


In a deafening roar of metallic droning, the many Swords of Hate rushed forward in one colossal, dragon-like mass towards Himemiya and Chida-san; Wakaba thought for a heart-stopping moment that the women will be grinded to nothing right in front of her eyes, but the swords somehow all managed to only impact the pointy joined tips of the touching soul-swords, before getting repelled away and towards the Shadow Girls, who all somehow remained oblivious as blade after blade disappeared into the void of their forms that she once mistook as shadow; they still were listening to the Shadow Boys’ strange story, engrossed.

“I get it now!” Miki slammed a fist against his palm. “They’re using the soul swords of princely people to bait the parasite swords away from Utena and into the shadows!”

“Hurry and come help us!”  Visibly strained as she kept her sword up against the swarm of sharp blades, Chida-san snapped at them in an uncharacteristically harsh voice.  “Four souls alone cannot withstand the Million’s onslaught for much longer!”

Shiori’s trembling voice was almost inaudible against the thunderous sounds of clashing metals.  “But . . . the swords . . .”

“Did you not all gather here with resolve to help Utena?” asked Himemiya from between gritted teeth; sweat could now be seen glistering upon her dark, flushed skin.

Wakaba looked around, and saw that everyone – ex-Student-Council members or otherwise – all looking like they were poised to draw their swords, but were all held by hesitancy in face of the infinite-seeming swarm of blades originating off Utena – still completely buried even after so many swords had since come off.

Everyone was actually willing to help, but none dared being the first to so; not when the possibility that others may not follow suit means certain death/damnation for the lone ones helping.                       

And, without the first to step up and help, there could be no second, nor third . . .

Only one question remained for the young woman faced with this situation: was she, always a leaf and never a flower, special enough to break the shackles of hesitancy holding back even the most noble of roses, so that the best friend of her youth can have a chance at salvation?

. . . so that Tatsuya, trapped by the enemy according to Himemiya, might also be saved?

Closing her eyes against the intimidating swarm of hate-filled swords, Wakaba placed a trembling palm over her boiling, hurting chest, and pulled.


“. . . Tenjou-kun,”

Waking up against his naked, beautifully-proportioned body, with strains of his long red hair brushing against her skin, Utena opened her eyes to see Kiryuu Touga’s flawless face smiling down upon her.

“Touga . . . how often have we done this before?”

“Many times . . . in my dreams.”

Running her fingertips across his smooth, unmarred cheek, Utena abruptly drew back as if noticing something off.  “Your face . . .” Glancing down, she inspected her own unclothed, feminine body with wide, surprised eyes. “I’m a girl again!”  She turned back toward Touga, feeling at a loss.  “How . . .”

Blue eyes warm with indulgence, Touga pointed a long finger off to the side, where she saw what appeared to be a shadow play upon a vast monochrome tableau: the only substantial thing in this vague space aside from their own presences.

The shadows depicted the scene of what appeared to be a mob lynching: a vast swarm of sword-wielding villagers (as their silhouettes suggested that they wore medieval country-side garments) were rushing a much smaller group all wearing something reminiscent of Ohtori’s dueling uniforms.  Wielding their own swords against the villagers, the group could be seen straining to push what they could of the ferocious mob off a cliff to the side, below which perched a three-headed dragon whose sharp back spines impaled the fallen as spears.  The round-headed girl at the front of the group – standing ahead of even the goddess-like silhouette with the rippling long mane – had both hands on her sword as she slashed desperately at the villagers, and Utena gasped out loud as she recognized who that was.

“Wakaba!  What’s she . . .”  No, not just Wakaba, each and everyone of the Duelists recruited by Anthy was there, Black Roses or else; they all were there, wholeheartedly battling the hate-filled villagers using every last ounce of their respective strengths and skills, determined to push every last one of their assailants off the cliff and out of the picture.

Voices, sounding afar as if seeping through another medium, still could be heard:

“ . .. tena-sama!  I’m not scared!  I’m plenty special enough to fight for you, just like you’ve always fought for me before!”

“Get a grip, you damned tomboy!  Can’t you see you’re dragging my Onii-sama down with you?”

“Tenjou!  This time, I’ll smash your goddamned coffin and drag you back out if it’s the last thing I do!”

“Utena-sempai!  Hang in there!  I think we’re almost at the five hundred thousand mark by now!”

“Utena!  If you can believe in anything at all, please believe this: we’ll definitely fight by your side until the very end; this time, let us all help you to go on living!  We . . .” 

“They surprised me, actually,” mused Touga, idly running a hand through his hair. “Whatever ulterior motives they may have for coming here, these people are now putting their lives on the line to help you.”  He paused for a moment, during which the sounds of violent battle raged on in the background.  “There was a time whey you needed them, and they weren’t there for you; but now, they’re all here risking themselves fighting for you.  Of course this cannot undo the years of hurt you’ve suffered through alone . . . but this moment of passion in this here and now . . . isn’t this worth something too?”

Vision blurring from tears, Utena nodded her head firmly, all the while willing herself back to reality, to where everyone awaited her return.

Whatever gender or body she now had, whatever hardships she faced, Tenjou Utena always fought her own battles. 

End Part Five

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