The End of the World sends him letters.
They are beautiful things, creamy white paper envelopes sealed with red wax. The handwriting is elegant, although erratic -- one paragraph of delicate kanji, another in flowing English letters.
They all say the same thing, really, couched though it may be in different words and phrases. Fight. Fight for your wishes, your memories, your self. Win back what you have lost, or hold on to what you have. You may win, you may lose, but it is better to fight things out than let them lie.
Juta reads them all, more than once. He sets them in a neat stack on the corner of his desk, so he can always see them from the corner of his eye.
He's not going to fight.
Ohtori has music rooms the way normal schools have storage closets, scattered randomly and frequently about the buildings like dust on the wind. Some of them are the size of storage closets, too, holding only a few wind instruments and the space to play one in, while others are great cathedral-halls filled with grandiose organs.
The one above Juta's room is neither. He always waits for the other students to leave, but when they're gone he plays as though to call an audience from thin air.
(It doesn't matter. The only audience he cares about will never hear him, and wouldn't come even if they did.)
He can feel his sanity giving way, piece by piece. Every time he sleeps he wakes up with a little less than he had before, and when he doesn't sleep it goes even faster. Or maybe he's just imagining the whole thing and he's just as sane as he was a month ago. It's not as though sanity matters much here, in any case. He's sure he could get by just as well without it. Maybe even better.
Juta finds a ring on his windowsill one day, gleaming silver-white without a single scratch. It's a very lovely ring, the sort of thing he'd draw a protagonist receiving from her fiance, but something about it feels a little . . . off. He puts it inside the second drawer of his desk, where he won't be taking it out by accident, and tries to forget the whole thing.
That doesn't work, of course. He wakes up holding it, so he puts it on a string around his neck instead where at least he can keep an eye on it. He refuses to put it on his finger, half-remembered tales making him cautious in strange ways. Maybe he should just put the damn thing on and see what it does -- his life could certainly do with a bit of variety, now that he can't talk to Asuka or Ryo anymore, and he definitely can't publish anything -- but boredom is better than death, at least for now.
There are no mirrors in this room, only his desk and pens and an endless supply of paper. There used to be a bed, too, but that's been gone for a while now. When he sleeps -- which is rarely -- he makes use of his crumpled pile of rejected drawings, which hide no secrets. He combs his hair by feel, sketching with one hand while the other moves by reflex. He could probably skip combing entirely -- it's not as though the students he glimpses through the windows ever seem to have untidy hair -- but it's one of those little things he holds tightly to with both hands, the same way he treasures the moment when his pen runs out of ink or his paper tears.
It takes him a while to notice that his hair has gone from black to a greyish-blue, like a less-red version of the chairman's. When he does, he sighs a little and stares out his window at the falling roses. (Maybe someday those will change, too; surely the chairman's sister must be tired of red by now.) A pity, really; it's been nice, here in this lonely room. Better than outside, anyway: no one to shout and laugh and throw flowers at him. No reminders, except the ones he can never get away from.
Now that's probably going to change. He wonders if the others -- Ruka, Mikage, Tokiko, Kanae -- noticed when their hair stopped being its dull, natural colours, when they stopped being just one more prisoner of Ohtori.
It is a fine spring morning, cool and clear, with falling roses at intervals. A normal day in Ohtori Academy. A little too normal, actually -- Juta recognizes the exact same scene, the same people doing the same things, from the day before. And the day before that, and perhaps even before then, because he spent many hours drawing and writing and not looking outside at all.
He sighs. Will not say "Okay, fine, I give in," because he doesn't, not really, and he won't put on the ring and he won't pick up a sword and he's not going to play this stupid game. Except he is, because he has been playing it since he signed the transfer papers, no matter how long he's locked himself up in this tower pretending he can win by not moving.
He gathers his pens together and walks away from his little room full of crumpled paper and resignation.