Friday, July 6, 2012

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

Seinen Kakumei Utena (it's Seinen, NOT Josei), crossing with Penguindrum starting Part 2
Rating: T for mature and sensitive subject matters.
Timeline: 10 years post Revolution, a few weeks post Fate Train Transfer
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: 

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 Seven: Prince, Interrupted - Finale

Flanked by his friends and loved ones he stood, gawking stupidly at the nightmare behind the shadows on the wall, appalled.

“Even if the coffin could be cleared of its maggots, that doesn’t mean its lock would accordingly open,” from beyond the space warping “windows” left behind by the inanimate Shadow Girls, Ohtori Akio sat languidly behind his office desk as he eyed Anthy with a pity akin to indulgence. “You should’ve known this better than these mayflies, Sister.”

“Mayflies . . .” bright aura dimming amidst rapidly darkening thoughts (how faraway did that previous moment of personal triumph seem, now that he again wallowed in hatred), Tenjou Utena had to consciously control his breath just to continue looking at the one who robbed away his (her) innocence and youth; the monster who, even now, was again mocking him –mocking them all – from afar.  “You . . . !”

“Brother,” Anthy, for her part, eyed her brother like one would an overturned bug that still refused to die.   “I see you’re looking even smaller now than when I left you.” 
Akio’s smirk turned sharp-edged; nonetheless, the Shadow-Girls-shaped holes started moving anew – this time merging together into one single, wide oval “space gape” that gave a better view of the Planetarium-office and the man. “Perspective is certainly an interesting thing, little sister; it can make the mighty look weak in the eyes of a beholder; or, in Utena-kun’s case, the wicked looking meek.”

“I never once saw the conniving likes of you as being meek,” snapped Utena, roughly twisting the verbal jab directed at Anthy back where it came from.  “Don’t talk like you know how I think!”

“I know everything there is to know about you, Utena-kun, I’m the prince from your girlhood.” He stressed the word “girlhood” in that knowing, cutting way the enraged Victor remembered well from their duel.  “I’m willing to be your prince now, if you’d just let me-”

“You’re NOT a prince!” snapped Utena, hating himself for having once allowed himself (herself) to idolize and love someone so obviously despicable.  “Don’t tarnish the word by pretending that you’re anything similar to it!  You . . . y-you . . .” Too many words, too many curses came to his frantic mind all at once: pedophile (but that would again conjuncture up unpleasant memories of his (her) cruelly stolen virginity), pervert (but that would tangle Anthy into the unpleasant equation), cheater (but that would connect him (her) to the sin committed) . . . in the end, only the lamest accusation managed to come out of his feeble mouth. “. . . sister user!” 

“Poor Utena-kun,” Akio’s chiseled face softened with what appeared to be genuine pity.  “even after stealing away both the Light of the World and the Rose Bride, you still remain in denial as to what a prince really is.”

Stealing . . .? Utena almost barked out a reflexive (thus unpolished) retort, but Nanami spoke before he could.

“Whatever a prince is, he not a grown man who go around screwing under-aged boys and girls, including his own sister.”  Utena would’ve openly approved of the feisty blonde’s jab, had it not also affected Anthy as well; Anthy who now was still as ancient statue.  Akio, for his part, displayed a twinkle within his deep-set green eyes.

“Such foul things coming out of your mouth, Nanami-kun; you might require oral cleaning . . . maybe some grass chewing again courtesy of my sister’s witchcraft will do the trick?”  Eye-wide, Nanami and Tsuwabuki turned sharply towards Anthy, whose stony gaze remained fixed upon her brother.

“Utena-kun,” Akio returned his attention towards the seething Victor, and spoke on in educating, condescending tones, “light cannot shine without darkness; a prince cannot shine without his witches.  You disapprove of me allowing my sister, the witch, to do the evil that I, by my nature as a prince, cannot do myself; yet now I see you having my sister lure all your friends into the lion’s den fighting your fight for you . . . how is that 'better' than what I did with the Rose Bride in my time?”

“Brother,” Anthy’s voice was as a faint wheeze of a slashing whip, “you ordered me around as your slave to suffer and sin on your behalf; Utena does her best to keep me and her friends from harm.  You’re as different from her as muck is to clouds.”  Akio's gaze upon his sister sharpened as a sword's point.

“And through it all, you’ve remained the same like always.”

Utena could only watch on in horrified outrage as the man’s words impacted Anthy like a knife to the heart – one that turned even her rich dark complexion pallid, as blood visibly drained off of it; her eyes, once so piercing, now were wide and glassy.

“Utena-kun,” their enemy pressed on with his hurtful, damnable words, “it may be that you can be a girl and a boy and all things in between, but my sister has a far more limited range than you do, I’m afraid; she can only ever play the witch.”  Like a malfunctioning puppet, Anthy’s head now dropped to hang limply while her entire stance slackened; Utena gritted his teeth in ever boiling rage.

“Enough already!  You’re a scumbag who’ve used Anthy like you’ve used me and everyone else!  She’s-” 

“What makes the witch, a witch,” Akio cut her off effortlessly, “is that she cares only for her prince and nothing about other people – not even herself.”  His smooth voice began to grow heavy with what sounded like real pain.  “Knowing that we’re linked by blood – that I feel her wounds, her suffering, with my own body – she still strives to destroy me for your sake, knowing that-” 

“You shut up!” Utena raised her soul sword even while knowing how useless a gesture it is, that with her intended target so far away.  “You’ve made us hurt each other, a-and now, you’ve reached beyond Ohtori’s boundaries trying to hurt the people outside too!  There’s no way in hell I’m gonna let you do this to our world!  We’re gonna stop you, and . . . ” He found himself trailing off feebly at Akio’s deep sigh.

“Me and my sister’s influences have gone beyond Ohtori into your world since years ago, Utena-kun.  How else could we have met that first time?”  

Utena felt the wind knocked out of his chest by his tormentor’s hideous question; God, for him to bring this up now . . .  “. . . I was a kid who just lost my parents, and you took advantage of my despair, you-”

“Yes, my sister and I both played our parts to entertain your young, impressionistic mind,” Akio flicked a stray lock of white hair out of his eye in a rather flippant gesture, “but how did you think you lost your parents in the first place, Utena-kun?”

“M-My-” so angry was he now, that Utena found himself stuttering, “my parents passed away from the Kiga Subway Attack and you will not talk about them!  YOU-” It was then that realization hit him like a ton of bricks (and hitting others too, judging by their now stunned looks; even the Shadow Boys that Chida-san took in appeared to be standing in poses of shock). “No . . . it can’t be, no way you could have . . .”  He was shaking so badly under Akio’s steady gaze by now that his knees were wobbling. “It was Tokyo, nowhere near Ohtori at all; there were real bombs used and real life terrorists arrested for the crimes committed!  There’s no way the likes of you-”

“Terrorists are people, and people can be bought and swayed.  ” explained Akio with cruel patience, as Utena helplessly crumbled to his knees from the debilitating trauma – to think that this was the truth behind the meeting that he (she) had treasured in his (her) heart for years and on; to think that he (she) had let the event shape him (her) unto adolescence; to think that the prince from his (her) childhood was in reality his (her) parents’ murderer; to think that the murderer’s sister . . . “You’ve gotten so close and friendly to my talented sister in recent years, surely you must have seen how good she’s at buying and swaying people?”

“You . . .”

“Uh-uh, don’t just direct your hatred at me, save some of it for my sister too – she was the one to have corresponded with the Kiga Terrorists on behalf of the Ohtori Clan, which funded the group-”

LIAR!”  Slamming a fist to the floor, Utena used the rush of pain to push himself back up to his feet again.  “What good will it do you to kill a train full of people with gas bombs?  Huh?  It doesn’t fit with what you’ve been doing at Ohtori, with the duels and the castle and-” He choked on his words at seeing the black rose that Akio had produced with a magician’s deft grace.  From behind him, he heard a faint moaning sound that he recognized to be Anthy’s.

“Ancient creatures died and left naught but fossil fuels, without which the present energy civilization cannot exist.”  Eyes on Utena (who could not help but breath through his inelegantly gaping mouth least he thought he would suffocate), the man twirled the rose’s thorny stem between long, agile fingers, prior to stabbing it sleekly into the empty vase atop his desk.  “This world demands that every accomplishment be paid for by even greater sacrifice, and that every pleasure taken be followed by even greater suffering.   Once, the witch understood that to live is to be punished, that the only thing keeping her life bearable was knowledge that her true prince was sharing her punishments with her; once, the witch would do anything to ease her prince’s suffering: be it destroying innocents, or baiting the guilty.”  Out of a corner of his eye, he saw Anthy’s stance sagging a notch further, such that she now resembled a withered straw doll.  “Had it not been for your parents’ death, would you have grasped at the ring I offered, and have it shackle you unto the Revolution?  Had it not been for my sister’s material promises, would you so-called friends – who all forgot about you within a month’s time – be here today?”   Utena thought he glimpsed guilty expressions from all around those gathered; he could not be sure, so overwhelmed was he by the crushing revelation now getting crammed down his throat.  “Did my sister ever tell you about her intimate involvement with the terrorist leader and the group’s senior members?  How about the way she planned out the routes to be affected during the subway attack, one of which your parents happened to be traveling upon at the time?  Did she get to see their final moments, I wonder?  I recall how she was personally going from train to train supervising the ongoings during the operation; surely, she must-”

A thin line of red light flashed by the side of Utena’s face, spearing through the space gape on the wall and towards Akio, hitting him right squarely upon the red dot on his forehead.  Stumbling to the side upon numb joints, Utena saw how Chida-san was aiming what appeared to be a spy-movie laser weapon at their enemy, with the unnumbered black penguin (Esmeralda; Anthy called it Esmeralda) quickly setting up a blindingly bright light screen from behind her.  From the side, surrounded by their blue penguins – plus Kozue, who was somehow standing with them and not the Duelists – the Shadow Boys gawked open-mouthed at what they saw. 

“Ah!”  Exclaimed the brown-haired one (K-taro, if Utena remembered correctly).  “That looks like . . . like . . .” The sentence was then left trailing off in uncertainty.

“What’d you guys remember?” asked Kozue, leaning down anxiously towards the kids; the boys gave no reply.

From beyond the hole in the wall, Akio narrowed his eyes at his current opponent.  “Tokiko-kun.”

“Ohtori Akio-san,” donning a pair of shades she just got handed by Esmeralda, Chida-san kept a steady aim upon her target,  “while it’s indeed entertaining to listen to you give a skewered version of the Fate Train Project to hammer the Victor’s conviction, there are matters between us that needs settling.  Shall we pick up where we left off ten years ago?” 

Despite the light glaring from behind the woman, Akio kept his piercing gaze upon her. “Ten years ago . . .  you mean the time right before Nemuro-kun’s graduation, when you tried attacking me at my office under the guise of a visit?”  Behind him, the shutters clamped down as teeth of a vast beast, casting the man under ominous darkness.  “Is this that same laser gun you threatened me with back then?  Wait, that was a sling shot with ball projectiles.  Ah, I remember now . . . you looked so cute wielding the toy while wearing your middle-age disguise – that’s how you fool the regular people into thinking you’re aging along with them, right?  I must say you look much lovelier as your true, witch self – is this the face your kind, generous husband comes home to?  Or has Nemuro-kun since taken his place?”  Chida-san took a step forward; Akio’s back now was straight to the point of rigidity.  “So I suppose this is some newer, deadlier item than its predecessor?  What does this one do, Tokiko-kun?  Affecting memories? Affecting the soul? I must say you’re one inventive witch for constantly coming up with such gadgets.” 

“I wonder who was the one who so enjoy making witches of women?” asked the coolly enigmatic woman.  “And you know I’ll do anything to come up with the means to threaten the likes of you, Akio-san.”

“Indeed . . .” drawled Akio, obviously just buying time, prior to speaking on.  “just like how you stole the Fate Diary from Tsukiichi-kun back during the Black Rose Research, thus almost derailing the entire Fate Train Research.”  Even with the shades obscuring her eyes, Utena could tell by Chida-san’s parted lips that the man’s words had hit a nerve.

“Fate . . . Diary?”  the blue-haired S-taro murmured in a voice like one hypnotized; Utena thought she could now vaguely make out facial features on his darkness cloaked face.  Kozue was squatting down now, urgently asking the boy something, with the latter slowly shaking his head as if in a daze.

“Were you actually thinking of using that as leverage against me after you’ve signed my contract, to make sure I uphold my end of the bargain?” asked Akio of the now stiff-postured Chida-san.  “Such a distrustful woman . . . did you think you could harness the Diary being the novice witch you were?  Did you think it could help you save Mamiya-kun?  How’d it feel when your own niece eventually stole the Diary from you thinking it’s child’s toy, and ended up getting split into two halves as a result-” A slew of daggers threw past Akio’s face, one of which drawing a shallow cut on his chiseled cheek; it took Utena a moment to realize that the black penguin Esmeralda - now looking startlingly vicious – was the one to have thrown the projectiles through the space gape, and had actually managed to hurt the Ends of the World.

“Now . . . Tokiko-kun,” producing a napkin, Akio dabbed delicately at his cut cheek, “if this is still about Mamiya-kun’s whereabouts, my sister should’ve already told you that she was the one in possession of him up to right before his disappearance.”

“If the Rose Bride was to tilt her head a certain way, it was because you commanded her to do so,” stated Chida-san with a finality that allowed no argument.  “My brother’s spirit disappeared within your garden after you’ve used up his usefulness; do you think I will not come after you, especially now that you’re no longer protected by your little sister?”  At the jab, Akio’s smile broadened to reveal rows of even, pearly whites.

“Tokiko-kun, sister or no sister . . . a prince shall always have his bride.”

Then came a flash of movement in front of Akio’s desk too quick for Utena’s eyes to follow – red fabrics, platinum green hair, pale skin, metallic glitter – prior to a slew of swords flying point first their way.  Even as Tokiko fired her shot, the Shadow Boys already were at the wall “pushing” the space gape shut around the cluttering of sharp sword points, but not before Utena caught a glimpse of the expressionless, mannequin-like woman falling backwards and into Akio’s arms.

“Kanae . . . san?”

A sharp gasp prompted Utena to turn his head around, where Tokiko – whose shades had since fallen off – was wide-eyed from where she was shielded behind an again human Mikage, who got impaled by two swords stabbing into his heart and head, respectively; Esmeralda and the other penguins were standing around watching them worriedly.

“Utena-kun,” Akio’s caustic voice came through the sword-cluttered gape,  “even though I pity your endless denial, I must applaud you for having harnessed such powerful brides to defend your reign as the upstart prince. These remaining Swords of Hate, baptized by the blood of my current bride, had since passed the passage and will come through to your side . . . if your brides for whatever reason cannot take them on your behalf, perhaps your groom could do the honors?  He really is very good at enduring impalement for those he loves; yes, mine is the voice of experience.”  Pause, followed by a more somber tone of voice.  “Sister, are you to share in another’s punishments on top of mine?”

And the cluttered swords shot seamlessly out from the wall like a hail of arrows.   


As a man coming from a kendo background (one who had lived though dangerous times in the past decade thanks to the Kiryuus) Saionji Kyouichi always prided himself on having quick reflexes.

Thus, the moment he saw Utena’s sword hand remaining limp even as the hate swords were extricating themselves further out the wall, the man was already charging full speed forward to block what he knew would be a quick and ferocious onslaught.

“Utena-sempai!”  A flash of blue and pink was all Saionji saw as Miki dived by knocking the now seemingly dazed Utena off to the side and away from the swords now rushing them. 

Lunging airborne via his momentum, Saionji executed a kendo blade swish that ended up smashing most of the oncoming swords, yet still was unable to stop one from heading straight for his unprotected flank; a flash, a clang, and even that stray sword got knocked off course by Juri’s (when had she gotten there?) agilely maneuvered blade; the hate sword, still intact, shot straight at a stunned Tsuwabuki, who got pushed to the side by Nanami – who, in doing so, left herself open to the oncoming sword point . . .

“Nanami!”  Saionji dashed forward after the hate sword, wincing as he knew he could not stop it in time-

A splash of liquid metal knocked the hate sword into the wall, violently breaking its blade; moving along the wall in mecury-like ball droplets, the liquid metal condensed slug-like back into one boiling mass, prior to rapidly “flowing” out of the room’s high arc doorway and away.   Regaining his footing and gathering his wits, Saionji turned back towards Utena (still seemingly not quite back on earth yet), and saw him holding but the hilt-half of his broken soul sword . . .

Tsuwabuki, who’ve gotten back up and was beside the wide-eyed blonde, likely came to the same conclusion as he did.  “T-That was . . .”

“Onii-sama . . .”  Nanami breathed out the word, prior to exclaiming it out loud.    “Onii-sama!”  She then sprinted out of the largely ruined room and (presumably) after Touga’s highly malleable soul sword, bumping against an old-fashioned tv set in her hasty exit (which somehow got turned on from the impact, and was tuned to what seemed like some heavily 3D-graphics-infused music video).

“Nemuro-kun!  Hang in there!”  Chida-san was now moving a human-again Mikage (who looked older than the last Saionji saw him, and appeared around the age he was in the framed black and white pic that still hung upon the wall undamaged) up onto a stretcher with help of the penguins (they might well be the ones to have produced it); Kozue and the Shadow Boys (the corners of their features now vaguely “illuminated”) quickly got over to help, and the whole group of them were off and away from the room going who knew where within the mansion’s enchantment-laced confines.  The rest of the Duelists now were left with their Victor and his Bride: the former having slumped brokenly onto his knees upon the debris-covered floor, the latter watching him from behind with wary eyes.

“Utena, you’re the one with the power now.” She took a light step up towards Utena, who visibly flinched at her sound.  “Don’t mind what he said; pull yourself together, please?”  Tremblingly, Utena got back onto his feet, and spoke without turning around.

“He lied.” It was clear to all what he was referring to. “Himemiya, tell me he lied.”  At again being on family-name basis with Utena (how the Rose Bride had conditioned him to be sensitive to such things, thought Saionji numbly), Anthy’s expression was one of tightly controlled anguish and agony.

“Utena-sa . . . Utena, I was the Rose Bride for a very long time, I’ve done many things that-” The sight and sound of Utena’s fist slamming against the wall cut her right off, as her new prince in despair then briskly stormed off and away from the room, refusing to hear anything more.  Green eyes clouding over with thicker despair than Saionji could ever remembered seeing in them, Anthy raised a glowing hand in a brief, subtle gesture, and made her listless exit from the dinning room that now had magically reverted back to its former, damage-free state.   Saionji glanced down upon his now empty hand, looked around, and realized that everyone’s soul swords had since disappeared.

Standing dazed in this again immaculate room (pristine and tidy as if the battle just moments ago – or even sword-plagued Utena’s rampage - never did happen), it took a while longer before most in the group could regain their full wits; and by that time, the questions they had flowed like water from a broken valve.

“ . . . why would Akio-san make the Ohtori Clan fund a terrorist group?” pondered Miki from where they now gathered at a corner.  “What had the Kiga Subway Attack got to do with regaining the Power of Revolution, which had been his objective all along?” His blue eyes narrowed in distrust.  “And those penguins hanging around Chida-san and Kozue . . . could those have a connection to the Kiga Group, which might have magic users as they’re all Akio-san’s pawns?” 

“The Chairman had driven us all towards the ends of our worlds,” Juri tapped her restless fingertips against the wall, “and Himemiya said he had made people into fuel with Nemuro Hall as this human broiler . . . was that the truth behind the rumor of the building getting burned down with students inside?  The subway attack was likely for the same thing too.”  Her voice lowered a notch.   “The fact that Utena’s parents got killed in the attack was probably pure random, but it somehow led him to Utena; that poseur must’ve looked mighty princely to the eyes of an orphaned child, who at the time would be desperate for-”

“Something eternal to build hopes upon,” murmured Saionji, whose mind now was clouding over with the old memories that had been pricking at his heart for a lifetime.  “It was the night before the funeral.”  Juri turned towards him questioningly, but he felt like getting out the story first, prior to doing further explaining.  “Inside the darkened church, there was an extra coffin beside those holding the newly dead couple; the lone surviving victim – the young daughter the couple left behind – was hiding in it, from where she cursed life for not being eternal, and vowed of never coming out into the sun again . . .”

“Saionji-sempai,” Miki cut in at this point, “you talk like you were there-”


They all turned towards Tsuwabuki, who almost ended up tipping the old TV off the table it was on.

“Oh, I’m just trying to turn this thing off,” explained the boy, blushing slightly.  “I don’t want this Saionji-sempai wannabe singing pop in the background while we’ve got important things to discuss.”

The TV, turned on since Nanami’s bumping into it, now showed a music video featuring a model-chic male idol undulating to the music while singing some syrupy love song.  Saionji glanced briefly over . . . and found his sight fixed upon the one onscreen.

“Oh, that’s Seen,” exclaimed Wakaba as she got up to the small TV for a better look, “voted the Most Princely Idol of the year by our magazine’s polls.”  Despite everything that just happened, the girl still could not help chuckling in light amusement.  “I guess he does resemble Saionji-sempai a little, with the hair and all, though he’s even more slender and pretty-” The words ceased abruptly (she probably recalled what had transpired while they faced the Swords of Hate) as she then made a show of trying to help Tsuwabuki turn off the device.  “Where’s the remote anyway?”

“I think this needs to get manually turned off,” Miki got over to inspect the old model electronic device, and ended up paying attention to the idol on screen.  “Wow . . . that’s a lot of work done there.”  Tsuwabuki made a face.

“No kidding . . . that nose’s so thin he can cut paper with it.”

“Not just the nose . . . look; there’s this jaw-shaving going on here . . . and his cheeks don’t really move even when he sings . . .”

“Oh, oh! And that has to be collagen puffing up his upper lip!”

“ . . . don’t you guys recognize him?”  asked Saionji, who had since moved up towards them with Juri.  “That’s Kazami Tatsuya, he used to hang around Tenjou and-”

WHAT?” Wakaba literally jumped in surprise.  “No way!  Tatsuya’s-”

“Wakaba-kun, I’ve worked alongside a journalist from the entertainment section doing a background-dig article on the guy, believe me when I say that he is Kazami Tatsuya.”  Guessing what the open-mouthed Wakaba was about to ask, Saionji gave his reply one step ahead. “The article somehow got banned by the higher ups, and never saw the light of day; the journalist also got fired from the magazine soon afterwards.  I suppose the Kazami-san’s backer must be some kind of powerful.”

“Tatsuya is Seen?”  Wakaba watched the one onscreen – now shown idly sticking fork after fork into a blood red apple – in disbelief.  “But Seen looks nothing like Tatsuya!  Tatsuya was stoop-shouldered-”

“Well . . . stretching procedures can do wonders for the shape,” supplied Miki, who then pointed at his bared shoulder,  “and look - deltoid implants.”

“Tatsuya had this tubular torso where his three sizes are like the same!  Seen is famous for his model-like wasp waist-”

“Rib removal – see how high-waisted he is compared to the regular guy?”

“And he was no where this leggy, no matter what kind of growth spurt he’d had afterwards-”

“The risky leg-stretching surgery can do wonders - note how his lower-legs are even longer than his uppers?”

“That rich, wavy mane from such a flat-haired onion guy . . .”

“Volumizing extensions.”

“ . . . catch me, I faint . . .”  breathed Wakaba, as she collapsed backward and right into a waiting Shiori, who gently helped her get seated down. 

“I think we really need to focus on what we should do from now on,” she said, understated eyebrows creased in unease.  “Whatever power Utena-san just showed us . . . he seems to be losing it again.  And there’s the issue with Himemiya-san at least partially responsible for his parents’ death . . . will this rift between them just break our entire operation apart?” Hands clasped in front, her slim fingers now were crossed nervously against each other.  “What’s going to happen to us, now that he knows we’re up against him?”

“Well, there ‘s no turning back now,” said Saionji.  “We’ve already thrown our first collective punch.   If we disband, the monster would be coming for us individually.   Remember how he’s been screwing up our lives all along?  That’s only going to get worse unless we stick together to defeat him for good.  It’s possible that Tenjou and Anthy may never again be close after the bomb that bastard dropped, but with Ohtori Akio as their common enemy, and ours, I’m our operation will continue.”

Shiori nodded, slight frame vulnerable with uncertainty; Juri came up from behind her, encasing the smaller woman in a familiar hug.

“We all want to believe that every wrong in the past is forgivable,” ruminated the woman, not seeing the strained expression of the one in her arms, “. . . but is it really possible to forgive a past wrong when its effects are irreversible and will last forever?”

Nobody could reply to that, as gloom thickened over the room like falling snow.

“About Tatsuya . . .” a dazed-seeming Wakaba’s airy voice put an end to the wordless moment.  “Himemiya said something like he’s now under her brother’s control . . . but why would the Chairman have him be an idol?”

On TV, the music video ended, and the now unrecognizably handsome Kazami Tatsuya was shown to be at some kind of press conference, with countless mic heads pointing his way (Saionji thought their (unintentional?) placement to resemble an array of incoming swords), smilingly answering one inane question after the next.  The view then started panning out . . . which soon got everyone in the room exclaiming in shock.

“What in the world . . . ?”  Tsuwabuki gawked at the screen, at the many reporters and conference crew surrounding Tatsuya, whom all looked like stylistic toilet gender symbols milling about in this “crowded” scene.

“Juri,” Shiori’s voice came out shaky, “do you think those are . . .?”

“Stage props,” Juri nodded grimly as she tightened her arms protectively around the other woman.   “This must be how our colleagues at the agency really look like too; I’d bet anything that either the Chairman or Himemiya can control them like they’re nothing.”

“But . . . no way!”  Wakaba was now pointing her trembling finger all over the TV screen.  “Look at the many fans gathered, and the people passing by out on the streets!  And there!  And there!  All the people except for Tatsuya are just gender symbols!”

“It’s the Light of the World,” stated Saionji, as he knew what he said to be the truth.  “It opened our eyes to the truth of the world that we couldn’t see before.”  Like the stagnated agelessness that is eternity, the horrifying might of mass hatred, the glory of princely nobility . . .

“So what does that mean?”  Miki was now crawling at his blue hair in growing hysteria. “That everyone in Japan, maybe even the world, are really just gender symbols? That Akio-san has control over us all?”

“Not us,” Juri spoke with much certainty, “since we all still see each other as people; but ours is likely a microscopic minority in this current world largely controlled by-” A gut-wrenching scream coming from upstairs cut her right off.  Alarmed, everyone raced up the spiral staircase, and to the white-painted, red-rose-lined washroom door (one with a big “OUT OF SERVICE” sign pasted on it) now parted slightly, from beyond which came the sounds of running water, and wrenching, heaving sobs that Saionji immediately recognized.

“Nanami!” His hand was already on the doorknob.  “What’s-”

“Don’t open it!” screeched the hysterical girl.  “Don’t let the others come in!  Keep them away!  Kyouichi, don’t let them see . . .”

Looking behind him, Saionji saw that Juri was already ushering the rest of the worried group backwards and away.  Giving the woman a grateful look, Saionji slowly opened the door a bit wider.

“It’s only me,” he assured the girl, sliding in already.  “I’m coming in-” And his words ceased the moment he saw what was inside.

Beyond the deceptively elegant door was a crude public men’s room – one with an elongated urinal trough on one side, and a series of partitions on the other – that looked like it belonged more to an unkempt park than to a Victorian mansion; what left Saionji stunned (to the point that the washroom door now slipped from his numb fingers, left unclosed), however, was the fact that he recognized this place.

“The cabbage field . . . toilet?”

Indeed it was that cabbage field, slyly revealed through the small, half-opened window below the running exhaust fan.  Fresh greenery basking under the bright skies, with the white swarms adrift betraying its severe butterfly infestation, the field looked exactly the way it did on that fateful day from his childhood – the day that ended up changing the entire course of his life thereafter (for better or worse); this really was that same toilet block built close to the field for people around the area, despite its run down interior now being impossibly connected to a luxurious mansion’s second floor . . .

“. . . Onii-sama . . .”

Nanami’s choked voice was coming from the partition at the very end, right next to the window.  Moving upon legs that he could no longer feel, Saionji then put a numb hand on the partition’s door, and pulled.

The inside of the partition was covered in the exact same graffiti-scribbles as he remembered from around that time: the cartoon-ish drawings of private parts, the phone numbers left by sexual solicitors, the torrid descriptions of obscene acts . . . everything was identical to what he remembered seeing as a boy having to use the filthy facility.  Hands covering her mouth from where she huddled-up against a cramped corner, Nanami was glancing tearily down upon the large porcelain squat toilet . . . or rather, what appeared to be her brother impossibly superimposed upon the toilet.

Unlike Saionji, who gained bulk throughout the past decade thanks to his physically demanding job as a freelance photographer/cameraman, Kiryuu Touga had lost much of his – to the point that the now willowy, even longer-haired man appeared downright androgynous; naked torso having molded into the porcelain, but with his lower-arms and legs sticking out from the mirror-smooth water, he looked like an exquisite component of an otherwise grotesque art piece.  Yet, even with his small, chiseled face completely submerged, the redhead remained clearly undying, as he stared up at them with a hazy, harrowing look in his violet eyes; it was a look that the other man well-remembered from when they first met years ago, as little victims chancing upon each other under unfortunate circumstances.

Time stood rigid still, freezing them all as amber over insects; the water flowed on, spiraling downwards into depths unseen. 


“It's been a long time since we’re together like this.”

They were inside a greenhouse basked under the pallid lights of winter, with flowers of every imaginable color blooming vibrantly within.  Seated at the garden table and chair set situated amidst the flowery interior were two petite, elegantly garbed adolescents obviously coming from money: a brown-haired, freckle-faced boy looking to be on the verge of hitting his growth spurt, currently pouring tea for a blue-haired, doll-faced girl looking delicate as a fresh vine sprout.

“It’s been a very long time indeed,” the girl held both cup and saucer up as she sipped her tea like a seasoned lady; downcast eyes, lowered in fans of lush lashes, betrayed her displeasure.  “Any longer, and even the snow outside the greenhouse would melt.”

Shrugging, the boy then took his own tea with gentlemanly grace.  “The snow never melts around these parts anyway.”  A long, pointed silence ensued, during which the boy eyed the girl steadily over the cup, before lowering it, and speaking on.  “Well . . . do you have something to discuss with me today?  Is it something that cannot be discussed over the phone?”

“You,” the girl put down her tea as she looked the boy in the eye with the intensity of a much older woman – one likely used to being in a position of power. “Why have you stopped gracing my dreams lately?”  The boy gave her a benignly serene smile – one that apparently fueled her growing spark. “Your staying here is based on your having a place in my heart; and don't forget that a woman’s heart can change at a whim.”

Smile deepening, the boy got up and moved towards the girl with the sinuous grace of a much older man – one likely used to intimate liaisons with women. “I'm being good to you, so much that I'm growing a new blue rose that’s exactly the shade of your hair.”  Leaning over her chair, he waved a pocket-sized copy of “The Little Prince” in front of her dew-clear eyes, and spoke such that his breath brushed against her fair cheek.  “And look, your favorite book; I prepared this knowing we’d get to spend time together-”


Frowning, the girl produced her cell phone (one marked by a pink rose motif); seeing the caller id to be “Kanae”, she pressed a button that turned the device right off, prior to taking the book from the boy to better study its artfully illustrated cover.

The boy watched all this wearing his faint, unreadable smile.  “Say . . . how’re you getting along with the Acting Chairman these days?”

At that, the girl turned her face away, somewhat defensively.  “Who cares about that man.”

“Never mind him then,” eyes soft with empathy, the boy leaned even closer toward the girl, practically purring in her shell-like ear. “Ohtori-chan, do you know? If you love a flower that lives on a star, it is sweet to look at the sky at night.  All the stars are a-bloom with flowers-”

With an abrupt, startling violence, the girl called Ohtori-chan pulled the boy to herself; the garden chair they were on tipped over, sending the two sprawling onto a bed of poppies.  Still clumsily entangled, the youngsters started shedding their previous polished manners along with their well-ironed clothes, leaving crushed red petals sticking all over their flushed skin and tousled hair.

“. . . you, Chida-kun; you're my one and only prince . . . !”

End Part Seven


This is by far the most difficult chapter to write as of yet, that with the multiple plotlines hinted at throughout the previous chapters (Utena’s Meeting Her Prince, the Penguindrum Elements, the Nemuro Research, the Saionji/Touga/Nanami Entanglement) all starting to converge onto each other.  Akio’s (hopefully dramatic) entrance allows for a number of less-written-about SKU characters (Kanae, Tatsuya, Mrs. Ohtori, Mamiya) to show up in the story; more will follow in the coming parts.      

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