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The Onion Girl

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Wakaba very much treasured her place as Utena's closest friend.

As far as she knew, she had been the first real friend Utena had upon transferring into Ohtori. Most other girls, for a while, would watch Utena from afar and squeal in excitement when she passed and waved at them, with her schoolbag slung over her shoulder, much like one of the boys on the Student Council. But Wakaba had been the first one to become close to Utena. It wasn't, after all, every day that you encountered a girl like her, with light pink hair, in a boy's uniform, and with such a confident and relaxed bearing. Wakaba knew then that she must be special. She couldn't say how, but...somehow she just knew it.

She herself wasn't sure, at first, if it would work, befriending Utena. She felt much more comfortable around the pink-haired tomboy, though, than she did around other popular students. They could be intimidating, but Utena was much warmer, more open and kind.

But she was still starkly different...as were those she now associated with.

The silken pink hair of her best friend, the purple rolls of Anthy Himemiya, the vibrant colors of the Student Council members. Touga Kiryuu's cascade of the richest red, the fiery coils of Juri Arisugawa, the robin's egg blue of Miki Kaoru...and Saionji's. Those trailing, curling tresses of Saionji's, a deep forest green that shone emerald in the sunlight. Wakaba sighed at the thought. She could run her hands through that hair for hours in her daydreams.
They were so striking, the Student Council. So regal, so dignified, so imposing. They were almost like gods, the way they carried themselves, so removed from everyone else, standing tall and staring straight ahead with as little regard for the others around them as one would have for ants on the ground, just doing as they chose.

Then there was Wakaba's own hair, by comparison, with no bright, fierce colors, lushness, or curls. Short, choppy, plain brown hair. The clearest marker there was of how plain and ordinary Wakaba was, unable to ever truly be special and chosen like those of the Student Council, almost like a mark of shame, a scarlet letter.

She had been heartbroken when Saionji had posted her love letter to him for the whole school to see and taunted her about it, publicly humiliating her. She was frozen in shock then, a tear falling from her eye unbidden as the sadness took over her. She had been so hopeful, that maybe now that she was friends with Utena, someone special, he would notice her and be interested in her. She had hoped he would at least give her a chance.

Later, her childhood friend Tatsuya, who she had called her onion prince back then, with the same plain brown hair as her, was back. He was a nice boy, but...that was all he was. Just a nice, normal boy. Nothing exciting, nothing extraordinary, nothing special. Wakaba craved, practically coveted, excitement and extravagance. She wanted to be special.

She wanted more.

And Saionji could give her more.

So of course she took him into her home after he was expelled. How could she not? She could have him all to herself now! She had promised his expulsion would be reversed one way or another...but, if she was being honest with herself, it was not really what she wanted. She wanted to keep him. She relished in having him in her home all to herself, of just the two of them sharing this little secret, and she wanted it to last.

This desire had only grown fiercer when Saionji seemed to truly care about and appreciate her.

When he made her that hairpiece.

He had devoted time, effort, and hard work to make it just for her, to thank her for all that she had done for him. He had made it out of appreciation for her and her alone. A shining golden leaf hairpiece, just like her name, "young leaves." When he spoke those sweet words in that velvety voice of his, placed his hands on her shoulders and sent warm electric tingles through her, smiled at her reflection in the mirror, and Wakaba saw this beautiful thing he had made with his own hands just for her attached to her... It felt so surreal, so elated, like the sweetest dream Wakaba had ever had. So many emotions welled within her, dripping from her eye and down her cheek. She had been so overwhelmed then, she could only stay perfectly still, as much as she wanted to snatch Saionji in her arms right then, her treasured one, her key to the special status and life that she sought more than anything else.

But it could not last.

The reality of that struck her hard when she returned home from school, to find her room vacant and barren, an empty space where something was now lost.

Her green-haired prince was gone.

He was back at school, without even a goodbye, hers no more. Maybe he never had been.

In the end, she was the onion girl.