Utena Tenjou knew that Anthy Himemiya liked to paint, even if she wasn’t the absolute best at it.
The problem was that Utena wasn’t sure when exactly she came across this information.
She didn’t recall sharing an art class with Anthy back in that place, so she never really witnessed her painting with her own cerulean orbs, and yet it was an innate truth that she could summon as well as she could summon the fact that Anthy Himemiya really liked motorcycles, which was a fact that also started off tenuously, but was ultimately proven when Anthy bought a giant black-and-white photograph of a motorcycle and hung it above their bed in what turned out to be an odd mating display which ended blissfully for Utena, but traumatizingly for Chu-Chu.
That was probably the reason why the unfinished painting in the kitchen didn’t bother her because it was an unfinished painting, but because it was an unfinished painting of a certain cabbage-haired fuckboy.
Also because Chu-Chu was tracking paint all over the kitchen now.
And you know what? Utena wasn’t even bothered by the fact that it was a painting of Saionji. She trusted her wife and Anthy was an adult. The adultiest adult technically. She could do whatever she wanted with her life and Utena fully intended to make herself some coffee and move on, after she cleaned Chu-Chu and the kitchen, of course.
Yep. She was doing exactly that. She was getting a mug from the cupboard, getting fresh grounds and a filter setting the pot in place, picking up her phone, dialing Anthy’s number—
“Didn’t you see my note, Utena?” Anthy says immediately.
“Wh— No, what note?”
Anthy giggles in that way that hasn’t gotten any less unsettling over time.
“I left it in the coffee grounds. I figured you would’ve seen it when you woke up.”
Utena slowly looks down at the machine, then down at her steaming mug of fresh coffee.
After a moment, the bubbles on the surface rearrange themselves into a message: Will be at Juri’s until 12.
“Oh, cool, witchcraft. Why are you at Juri, she has work today— Wait, are you with— “
“What were you calling about, Utena?”
“Oh, right,” Utena says, almost oblivious to how the conversation was flawlessly railroaded. Almost. She heard Shiori’s little giggle over the line. “Why is there a painting of Saionji in the kitchen?”
“Ah, well the sunrise was so beautiful this morning that I thought I’d paint in the kitchen and watch it.”
“Should I have not done that?”
“Well, no, just…” Utena’s voice drops to a whisper as she glances over her shoulder. “I don’t like how he’s looking at me.”
Anthy laughs, clear and free, while Shiori hisses “Be careful!”
“Okay, I can’t ignore this anymore. What are you two doing?”
“We’re doing our nails,” Shiori says, revealing that Utena was on speakerphone the whole time. “You should come join us.”
“Hard pass— “
“I’ll be home soon, Utena. Can you wait until then?”
Utena sighs and looks at the half-finished painting again.
“Thank you. Bye-bye!”
Anthy hangs up.
This was the series of events that led to Utena getting into a staring contest with just one (1) of Saionji’s eyes until Anthy came home and sat right in her line of sight and want back to painting, nails now painted a delicate shade of porcelain white.
“So...was it that you couldn’t think of anyone else to paint or…?”
“You’re not wrong,” Anthy says, setting down her brush and appraising her progress as she wipes her hands. “Come see.”
“Is this gonna be another secret room?”
Anthy says nothing as she leaves the kitchen. Utena sighs and follows her to the unfamous hall closet.
Anthy stands before the door and jiggles the handle, a serious look on her face.
“Do...you want me to try, Himemiya?”
“No, it’s fine,” she says, still jiggling the handle.
Utena waits as patiently as she can, folding her arms over her chest and looking around the hall, until her eyes finally rest on the door again.
The hallway closet never had a plaque on it, did it?
Regardless, it does now, but only sometimes. The text changing with every jiggle of the handle and sometimes the plaque disappearing entirely, like Anthy was switching doors each time.
Finally everything falls into place.
‘Memorial’ the plaque reads simply.
Before Utena can ask the obvious, Anthy opens the door and steps into darkness.
Utena scrambles to follow her and winds up bumping into Anthy’s back. Rather than toppling over like she once would, Anthy holds her ground as she reaches up to find the light.
“Please be careful, Miss Utena.”
Utena tries to compose herself so she doesn’t lose this rare moment of honesty.
Anthy finds the light and turns it on.
The first thing Utena notices is the picture of herself on the largest canvas she’s ever seen, surrounded by a sea of faces she doesn’t recognize.
Well, she also sees Juri she thinks, but on closer inspection, it’s someone completely different with the same orange hair, only in a bun with a few loose strands framing the face, lips painted red and eyes lavender.
Next to her is a sheepish-looking person in a white duelist uniform, only in a style Utena doesn’t recognize. They have dark skin like Anthy and long black hair that covers their face, though through the strands Utena can see one cold-colored eye.
Next to them is a boy with white hair and ruddy, freckled skin, his lips pursed and eyes narrowed in constant disapproval, one eye replaced with an ornately-carved silver ball.
Next to him is—
Anthy silently glides past Utena, towards the shrine at the end of the room, just under Utena’s portrait.
Utena comes to stand next to her and watches as Anthy lights a few candles in one graceful motion.
“Are these...all of them?”
“No. I don’t think that’s possible any more.”
Utena’s eyes flick away from the candles to a few of the canvases that only have numbers on them.
“I’m sorry...I got on your case about the painting…”
Anthy smiles softly.
“I would’ve told you soon.”
Utena silently clasps her hands and bows once, and after a stunned moment, Anthy smiles and does the same.
When Utena finishes paying her respects and composes herself, Anthy takes her by the hand and tuge her away.
“What?” Anthy gives her an owlish look.
“I can’t just go, look at them!”
“Utena. I think you know better than anyone, that you can’t stay and grieve forever. The best way to honor them is to keep revolutionizing the world.”
Utena says and loops an arm around Anthy’s shoulders.
“Live our lives heroically?”
“And with style,” Anthy says with a giggle. “Let’s go have lunch.”
“Alright….Teach me how to mix paints too?”