Chapter 1: hold my hand
He’s stolen her voice, stolen her soul, made her a doll.
And yet, she still feels that, even in her forced silence and servitude, she can communicate words of love. All it takes is a motion of the hand.
This, she thinks, must be how people communicated before they could speak. Before the mouth, before the face, before even the head could convey emotion and everyone had the features of dolls, there was a hand stretching across infinity to meet the heart of the other.
Before and after the birth of the voice.
A touch was the only way to speak the truth.
“Everyone will leave you in the end.”
“Everyone will leave you except me.”
He’s told her so every cycle, and so far he hasn’t been wrong. He’s the only one to stay, to dig her from that coffin and bring her back into the light. So its only natural that, after years and years, she remain distrustful of everyone. Only natural, she’s all too used to a sword in the back.
A sword in the front.
A sword in every side.
But Utena still stands, on the top of the roof, holding her hand tight so she doesn’t go down too. Here Utena stands, pulling her back from the edge, saving her from a different kind of pain, and it makes her want to claw her hair out. She wants to rip this girls eyes out of her face and scream and scream and scream because wasn’t she just like the other’s? Wasn’t she…
“Blame me,” she says instead, curling into a ball. For everything, everything I’ve done.
“No,” is what she hears next. “Blame me.”
(when she puts the sword through utena’s back, she wonders if utena will regret that apology, regret that offer of blame. you can blame me for this, if you’d like. i’d understand, she thinks, and the thought is genuine.
instead she finds utena’s face showing through the crack in her coffin
utena’s hand reaching for her
he lied. she thinks, and reaches back.)
Chapter 2: ayurnamat
Ayurnamat, the philosophy that there is no point in worrying about events that cannot be changed.
Utena, after the fall.
“Ah,” she says and also, “I see,” and then, “I could never be the prince.”
It’s her whole world, built up on this ideal, her whole life. The holes in her memory pulse (her whole world, her whole life even if she can’t remember how long that is). Utena is smiling as the swords come down. Well, she thinks and then, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.
She can still hear Akio screaming in the background, and she wonders: how did he think this would end?
How did he think this would end any other way, no matter how many cycles came over
and over and over and
“I see,” she says as the first sword hits her heart, “You could never be the prince either. Not really.”
“Do you realize that?” she asks, voice muffled by the sounds of steel that surrounded and pierced her and surrounded her like a cocoon. She was warm even though the steel was cold. (Did Anthy feel this way? How many years…?
how many years how many)
“You told me, you told me,” (how can she speak when there are swords in her throat, coming through her mouth from the back of her head?)
“There are no such thing as princes. There never were.” (what a simple thing, a simple thing that must always be: no one can save you, you can save no one but yourself)
(and when the swords fall back from their assault there is no body, just a breath of the words left over years after ohtori broke down in ruin)
When Utena woke up, she was not entirely sure where she was.
In fact, she wasn’t even completely certain where she had been before this, only the faint scent of roses and the knowledge that she had not always been here followed her. It was dark, and the air had a thick smell of old death and dried blood, and she thought perhaps she was dead.
But, as the sun started to peak over the horizon and the scent of roses started to fade, something different was brought to light. Fresh dirt, soil, life.
Wherever she had been, this place was both older and newer. It had suffered, but it was now starting to breathe new life again.
(it reminded her… it reminded her of—)
It made her think of hope.
Chapter 3: cycle back and end
Going back to the beginning again, summing it all up: the cycle and the break and hope for the future. (Someday, together, we'll shine.)
Also involves a lot of my personal headcanons like: Anthy/Dios/Akio are a trinity and Anthy was actually the Dios that came to Utena / was Utena's prince. High five everyone, isn't that what fic is for?
The coffin falls through the sky and breaks on the ground by itself. Somehow, she is completely unharmed.
Sprawled across the ground, staring up at the lightening sky above, her first thought is: he isn’t here. When she closes her eyes so tight to keep the tears from falling, her second thought is: oh god, Utena. She finds she doesn’t want to move, her hands stuck to her face as she waits and waits for the sky to darken again and the swords to come down. This time for good.
It isn’t until she finds, under her arm, a rose hidden by debris but still alive. It’s white petals stroke her skin gently, and urges her to move forward.
step by step
step by step
step by step, you can do it yourself
(Be brave, she tells herself.)
She has stopped asking why he lets these boys know just enough to make them cocky, to think they’re in control just like him. With him. She has stopped asking why a certain moment must be forgotten, for wouldn’t it be easier to hurt them deeper if it was remembered? Why must she play these parts: child, wife, mother, crone (whore) when there were easier ways to go about these things.
After all, she’s been doing this for centuries now, and she knows the patterns to emerge from the game they play. Nothing can surprise her anymore, no one, she knows this.
Nothing should surprise her anymore; at least that’s what he says.
Nothing surprises him anymore, surely. Not the one who created this space, who controlled this game. Nothing surprises him at all.
It’s why she realizes she shouldn’t worry when this girl comes into her life.
She shouldn’t because he doesn’t.
“She’s just like the others,” he says, so she sighs and nods and places on her smile. And she smiles and she smiles for this girl who she knows cannot surprise her because she’s just like the rest. Because no one can surprise her anymore and because no one can surprise her no one can hurt her. And so she is safe, like the times when she returns to her coffin to start the cycle all over again. She smiles and she smiles and she smiles and she tries not to feel.
This shouldn’t surprise her anymore either.)
She always reminds herself that this one will betray her too. Saving her time and time again, reaching out a hand in the dark to help her fall asleep: this one will betray her too in the end. (They always do, this shouldn’t surprise you.)
(He’s the only one that stays. Who holds her, who chooses her over everyone else.
So she stays too.
No matter what he does, how hard his hands twist and how angry she feels, how much she wants her nails to rip into his face, claw at his skin, pull out his eyes she doesn’t. Because there’s no one else who will pull her out of her coffin at the end of the day.
No one else.
They’ll all betray her in the end.)
(they betray her for him)
She hardly knows where they started anymore. Which came first, the chicken or the egg (him or her him or her?) He was the Older. He was the one who ruled this place, who twisted all their thoughts around his thumb and tugged the strings to make them dance. Who spoke sweet words to the children, drew them to this space to fight over her, to fight over him, to bring them a step closer to Eternity. (or was he?)
(were they getting closer? she could never tell.
she’d learned to stop asking
she’d learned to smile more and talk less and bottle her fury and hurt up in a little bottle and wait for the end
he’d draw her from her coffin then, her prince)
The girl spoke often about Him. It stirred something in her and she didn’t know why: stories of nobility and romance and gentleness were false after all. Child’s play. She didn’t have the heart to tell this girl who Her Prince really was, what He was doing.
(she didn’t think she had a heart at all)
(but then what was it that stirred when she listened to the girl talk, hope and happiness alight in her voice, what was it that drew her to take the girl’s hand at night, that made her think maybe maybe maybe…)
“Actually, Utena-sama, I—”
i want us to be friends like that
“What is it?”
She watched it happen over and over again. Had they not already been detached from her, he would sweep in and pull them away. Rip away every attachment they may have to her (and her to them, her to them). He would betray her just as badly as they did, rip someone who she could have possibly loved away. Who could have loved her. Made them love him instead, a replacement. (she couldn’t be surprised, he had always been better with words than she)
(still, as much as he hurt her, he was the only one to come back
to pull her out
to choose her)
She shouldn’t be surprised that this girl had done the same. Shouldn’t be hurt by this revelation that happened every time, year upon year, time and time again. But she does. (This is the first time though
that someone understands she’s angry
(I poisoned your cookies, I poisoned your tea)
(let’s share cookies and tea when we’re old ladies, together)
(for once, she sees the possibility of a future for her, unlike this repetitive Neverland she resided in, growing old with cookies and tea and this girl in a house of their own with a bed of their own, together far away from—)
(but no, that was a betrayal, the only person that loved her that chose her. she stopped herself.)
(she pushed the girl further away, drove a sword through her back and out of her heart, cut her down with words. this time, she betrayed. made sure that everything would be the same, as it always was, that nothing could surprise her or hurt her. she would feel the swords, would lay in her coffin, he would come as always, it would be just them. only them.)
“You can’t be my prince. Because you’re a girl.”
Wasn’t that how it worked?
The girl was broken, would never come back to her, would never make her heart stir in her chest again. The only thing that would touch her heart was the sword, the finishing blow of the millions, her last feeling before she fell into her deep sleep in the coffin. Before she woke up, and it started all over again. (She felt it, and she closed her eyes, accepted it. Hoped it would be the last time.)
When the coffin opened this time it wasn’t him.
(they had both been surprised by that)
She came, reaching forward in the darkness, hands bloody and nails broken from forcing the lid to open. She begged the girl to leave, go away, save yourself (like everyone else, please go) but she didn’t. (surprise) She reached forward. Their hands touched.
(she felt warmth and realized that he would have never done this for her. if he hadn’t needed her, her body and her soul, to warp the place around them he would have never pulled her out. he had separated from her too fast, and lacked the power and control. he tried to take it, but could not without dragging her down into this feeling. smile smile smile, don’t ask questions, do what you’re told. make this work for me.)
(she remembered the touch of utena’s hand and it was like eternity rested between their palms)
Their hands were ripped away from each other. And Anthy fell.
(It was okay though, the falling. She knew now that it wouldn’t hurt if she didn’t let it. She knew now she could pull herself out, that she needed no one’s hand, no matter how warm or soft. That it was her turn. She had a future to look forward to.)
“By all means, stay in your cozy little coffin. But I’m leaving.” (you won’t last the semester without me, won’t last the day)
(Ohtori will fall behind my feet)
The girl is no longer a girl when she finds her.
The woman is smiling when she approaches, and her monkey friend is ecstatic. He jumps from her shoulder and reaches the woman’s outstretched hand. Makes sounds of love as the woman pulls a small pastry from her bag. “I was waiting,” she said.
(for me or chu-chu?)
She doesn’t say that.
(i’m so sorry for how things went.)
She doesn’t say that.
(i got myself out, i did it, i wanted to see you so badly)
She doesn’t say that.
She doesn’t say anything. She smiles back, and the woman moves into her outstretched arms. They kiss, and it was like the future rested between their lips. It conveys everything that needs to be said.