2017-06-03 - Crack The World's Shell

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Title: Crack The World's Shell

Kasagami Araki convenes a meeting of the Duelists to begin a new challenge bracket for the right to duel Utena and seize the power to revolutionize the world. Jenga is played. Feelings are hurt. And another challenge leaps to the front of the line.


Shizuru Fujino, Kozue Kaoru, Kasagami Araki, Takeo Akamizu, Juri Arisugawa (NPC), Touga Kiryuu (NPC), Miki Kaoru (NPC), Kyouichi Saionji (NPC), Yukino Kikukawa (NPC)


Ohtori Academy, Chairman's Tower

OOC - IC Date:

06-03-2017 - 01-23-215

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Ten Hours of Densetsu - Kami no Na ha Abraxas https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KimxIT1VA3c

The Chairman's Tower looms over Southern Cross Island. It is a pillar of civilization both literally and figuratively. It is a spear in an ancient war, one that thrusts mightily into the sky as though hoping to tear a hole in the heavens.

"If it cannot break its egg's shell, a chick will die without being born."

To be granted entry to its executive elevator is privilege beyond measure. It is accordingly ornate for the occasion; every surface gleams with the sort of quality material for which there is no substitute for money. Money can't buy you love, but you can't buy gold inlay, mahogany siding, and smoldering sandalwood with love, either.

"We are the chick."

The primary color in the elevator is red; it is battlefield, it is womb, it is both and neither of these things. Mostly it is ostentatious, and the other decoration -- the glass wall, external -- is the sky itself. The world recedes beneath, and the endless blue presents a pointed challenge, a clarion call to ambitions of all hues.

"The world is our egg."

Touga Kiryuu, president of the Ohtori Student Council, is holding court, and they haven't even gotten to the Student Council Room yet. A microcosm of the campus, he is a giant white tower in the middle of the elevator. He looms effortlessly, and his presence is felt profoundly.

"If we don't crack the world's shell, we will die without being born."

He savors every word. They flow from his lips like fine wine from a carafe. Ritual is beautiful. Tradition is sacred. But it's also meaningful, on a very personal level. We will die, Touga intones, and he feels a little death inside himself every single time. Eternity unreached... as of yet.

"Smash the world's shell!"

The doors fly open, revealing the shadowy Student Council Chamber within the tower itself -- and beyond it, almost blindingly white by contrast, the white marble balcony where most business is actually conducted, overflowing with sunshine. There's a fine table there, and chairs. There is also a cardboard box containing a board game. It will be opened shortly.

Striding into his domain, Touga barks out the final stanza of his life's poem at a low shout, along with the rest:

"For the revolution of the world!"

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

In silhouette it's hard to see the bored expression on Shizuru Fujino's face. It is her place to show a certain amount of pleasant detachment that is in this case only an open lie among those members of the Student Council who have been here long enough. Shizuru is the vice president of that selfsame Ohtori Student Council, and accordingly she stands with hand flipping through her hair once not far from the president, a natural silhouette of femininity beside the great tower here within the elevator. The sling she's worn for weeks is gone; her uniform stands out, not the officer's attire of many others but something more low-key.

And the vice president knows this elevator well, her snow-white jacket setting off the colors here. This speech too, she knows well.

If she cannot break her own shell, being born into the world outside is the same as dying. She will die, and prefer it, if she cannot maintain her own ambition. Her red eyes focus into nothing as they continue. The tradition continues, as it has.

Staring into her doman as the elevator opens, Shizuru intones smoothly in her low, loud voice:

"For the revolution of the world!"

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Kozue doesn't shout like the rest. Not because she felt 'too cool' for it- but because this isn't her domain. Even sporting a rose seal on her finger she's something of an outsider and she knows it.

The power she possesses isn't the same as the others, she simply was given an opportunity- and failed.

She has her own feelings of the speech- and all of them amount to selfishness. In a different way from the rest- but selfishness all the same. She wouldn't fail again.

"This is why I prefer to take the stairs..."

Kozue sighs as she comes into view, no longer a silhouette- but herself. The statement has a touch of her usual cheekiness. Almost as flippant as the words- are the neon legwarmers she's sporting around her calves.

Leaning against the crimson cage, her arms crossed over the small of her back, she looks fairly casual as the others depart the elevator. Finally, she almost ponderously unlaces her arms and walks forward.

She pretends not to be looking at Miki as she strides out, brushing by Kasagami on the way. She doesn't apologize as she keeps walking by- giving her a glance, the slightest hint of a smirk upon her lips.

It's not long before she's seating herself at a chair at the table- waiting for Miki to sit down so it won't look like she chose the chair across from him. It just happens by coincidence. Crossing one leg over another as she settles herself in and lets the sun warm her pretty face. "What's the occasion? I'm guessing Ends of the World didn't call us together to show off a new letterhead?"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami Araki stands tall. She doesn't loom quite as much against the likes of Touga Kiryuu, but the young woman is large for her age. A silhouette in black, Left-and-back upon the elevator leaves the girl's figure shrouded by her everpresent coat that seems to flutter with every transition of floor to grate to floor again. Arms crossed, ponytail all swaying in the movement of the elevator, her bad eye is covered by one hand as she leans back with one foot behind the other. Her smile is self-sure and cocky as the red shadows obscure most of the right side of her body even within the elevator itself.

The honor isn't lost on the less senior Student Council Member. She's one of very few given the chance to be here, to Duel, to crack the egg surrounding her. Her own naieve nature, her hesitation against her enemies, her growing realizations to her own nature haunt her even as her own ambitions burn. Fuel to the fire.

And she has no intention of dieing. She has to be a hawk rather than a chick in order to claim a true crown. Shivers run down her spine as Touga's speech winds down. She joins in, images of her triumph over the Engaged racing in her head and heart.

She must smash the world's shell.

Kasagami's voice is loud, and full of the kind of enthusiasm only one utterly committed with all of her heart to the idea as that elevator slides open. One fist clenches, and she holds it to her side with a grin.

"For the Revolution of the World!" For her, it may as well be a cheer, and battle cry all at once.

Kozue brushes by, and Kasagami's coat flutters all the more. Her good eye narrows, but her enthusiasm doesn't dim at all as she makes her way over to the table with a slow, annoyed chuckle. She's claimed not one, but two chairs. Kasagami lounges as she so often does: leaning back on two legs and combat boots crossed one over the other. Her good eye peers at the group, hands behind her head in a decadent angle.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

The silhoette of Takeo Akamizu is leaning against the side of the elevator, arms folded, with one leg up putting the flat of that leg's foot against the elevator wall. His hair, puled into a neat pony tail falls past his chin and dissapears into the back of the silhoette, giving it an illusion of being longer than it actually is. The words are spoken by Touga and Takeo watches the man by simply raising his eyes, if not his head as he speaks.

The doors open and with the others he says, "For the Revolution of the world."

The words are spoken, with sincerity all of their own. There is no malice or mockery in the way he says them. It is simply spoken at a more moderate volume. He exits the elevator and places hands in pockets after flipping the tail of his hair over his shoulder to fall down his back. His uniform is the Ohtorri Orange, but the collar and cuffs are trimmed in black, with black trousers that trimmed in the Ohtorri orange. While he lacks the epulets of some of the other men, the uniform is finely cut to resemble the thing one might expect a french gentlemen to wear in the 1800's. The Irony is not lost on the French Knight reborn, who might have worn something similar to court, but 1300 years older. This gives him an actual dashing look when he bothers to wear the jacket buttoned up, which he has chosen to do for this particular meeting. It gives him a look that closely resembles the Knight he was in another life, and makes him look just a touch larger than life. More vibrant. He steps aside and leans against the wall beside the elevator, taking up the same stance he did while he was in the elevator. He knows his place, the very bottom of the totem pole, and he decides to just stand and watch.

For now.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

A lean and languid shadow rests her shoulderblades against the crimson elevator, long curls masking a surely noble profile. The rest of her slouches away from the wall. Juri Arisugawa rebuffs the world around her with folded arms, her careless stance including the elevator's occupants in that dismissal.

She shows no outward sign of attention paid to the Student Council president and his traditional pomp and circumstance, as is her way. A lioness this still must either be at rest... or hunting.

"For the revolution of the world!" She stirs with Touga's final verse, adding fierce tones to the chorus of the Council while inwardly disdaining the miraculous power they each seek. Not until she enters the brilliant sun does her mane alight, orange as a dying day against the deep blue sky surrounding them.

Long sure strides carry her to the table, and Juri pays the endless dizzying nothing to either side as much mind as she did the elevator. Her customary chair awaits and she takes it, curling forward with chin in hand. She lets disinterest hood her sea-green eyes and looks at nothing in particular, though her gaze does flicker across the box on the table once, quickly.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

At the edge of the group, a whip-thin, ruler-straight boy stands in profile. One arm is folded across his stomach, the other holds a round stopwatch, its lanyard hanging down his forearm. His delicate face is turned down to watch the timepiece. Look close, and the shine on his eyes will show you his eyes shift back to Kozue, seemingly emotionless, then disregard her in favor of the stopwatch again.

Left of center next to Touga, a much taller man looms, long torso arched arrogantly. A shinai leans against his heel, held at the pommel like a bamboo cane. A green hairshine slides down a great wavy mane with every floor. Wide shouldered and lean-chested, he takes only a narrow portion of the elevator but he fills that portion utterly, aggression implicit in everything from the bend of one knee to the angle of a long chin.

"For the revolution of the world," Miki says, exactly on time and with obedient clarity.

"For the revolution of the world," Saionji joins in, a disillusioned irony dripping from his sigh.

Falling into step behind Juri as they file from the elevator, Miki clicks the stopwatch when Kozue bumps Kasagami. He resets it after making mental note of the second hand.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

The secretary of the High School Council is a particularly easily-forgotten figure; mousy and unassuming, Yukino Kikukawa looked at the floor rather than the ceiling during the ascent, and her breathy voice is consumed by other, more prominent timbres, when it's time to call for world revolution. Her lips can be seen to move, but little more.

She takes a place not far from Miki Kaoru (her middle school counterpart, and keeper of the timer) -- the minutes she'll record in her notebook, pen gracefully flying across the page, are supplemented by the steady hand on that stopwatch, for certain.

Touga is the last seated, with Shizuru at his right hand, and Saionji at his left, which is how it always is. He leans forward, and with strong, sure hands slides the cardboard in the middle of the table upwards, like he's unsheathing a sword.

It's actually yet another tower -- wooden, made of smooth little playing pieces, three per floor. The tower's height is limited only by the ambitions of those who would play the game.

The box, discarded to one side, is emblazoned with a single word: 'JENGA'

He makes the first move, taking the absolute bottom center piece of the tower, the heart of the foundation, and casually laying it at the peak. Everything move taken after this, every piece taken from any -- all -- higher floors -- will be that much more precarious.

A flicker of a smile crests his lips. It isn't for any single opponent -- it salutes himself.

But, business calls.

"I was asked to convene this meeting by our very own Disciplinary Executive," he replies, leaning back in his chair and granting the floor to Kasagami with a lazy gesture. He's lazy like a lion in the sun, though; at no time does the king of the jungle cease to be a heartbeat away from murder, no matter how easy it is to lose that fact in the shine of his eyes and teeth. "I believe she has an announcement. Kasagami-chan, do take it away..."

Overhead view: [1]

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

The vice president takes her usual seat without any particular ceremony beyond the natural ceremony inherent in doing just that. She remains at the president's right hand, glancing to Juri beside her with a pleasant expression that doesn't really... change for any reason as she gone.

All these voices; Shizuru glances around all of the others, even as of course she noticed what Kozue didn't do, notices her smirk even now. A little bump here and there...

It doesn't matter.

"That would be exciting, wouldn't it?" she asks Kozue about the letterhead. But then she moves forward enough and easily takes a middle piece from three quarters of the way up the tower, setting it gently atop the tower after Touga's.

She shows no sign of being a lion or a lioness, as is always the case with her. Shizuru seems more focused on the game than on th conversation.

She quirks an eyebrow at Kasagami, and offers her a small, cold smile.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

The click of a stopwatch at that exact moment indicates he's paying attention. Predictable in how he marks the passage of time.

Leaning back in her chair, she eyes Yukino for a while- smiling her way as long as it takes for her to notice. Mostly she just wanted to get a small rise out of her by someone paying attention to her presence. Juri gets a more respectful nod- as does Shizuru- when she's in the middle of addressing her. There's a tiny smile at her statement. "It would truly be a red letter day." She quips, terribly, hoping that Miki groans.

Standing herself back up when they all come to order- she's in the middle of leaning over the table, almost suggestively so- pulling a piece out of the tower when Touga mentions it was there Disciplinary Executive that called the meeting to order.

Her eyes slowly lid, as she continues to carefully pull out a piece from near the center on the side and sets it down.

"Is that so...?"

She takes her place back in her seat, "Well don't keep us in suspense Araki. Tell us just what you think is so important as to call all of us here."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami's arms open wide for just a moment as Touga grants her the floor. Her gaze briefly cycles to each member of the Council. For just a moment, there's warmth in her gaze even towards Saionji and Shizuru. Her eye closes, and then a boot foot kicks her off her lounging perch, landing with a thud-thud of the heavy shoes. Arms cross again, her right hand near her chin.

"A gentleman as always, Touga-san. Ladies, gentlemen! Welcome!" She adds with a small laugh as she addresses the council. A kick to a chair, and she stops it's spin with a foot to the top. Leaning in, she's almost conspiratorial.

"Oh be patient, Kozue-chan. You have to savor moments like this." A little wink, and needling at that.

"I have an announcement, yes, but first I want to ask each and every one of you a question. What kind of Revolution do you think, should the impossible occur, would be brought about by someone like Utena Tenjou?" Poses Kasagami to the group. And then she steps away from the chair, circling back around closer to the table. She side-eyes the group, teeth gripping her glove and removing it. She lets it drop into her coat. Her hand reaches out, scarring deep. Here, she doesn't seem to care about it as much as she would elsewhere.

She grasps a piece about two notches above where Shizuru had grabbed. A right side piece. With a small, steady breath, she speaks.

"She's a lovely woman. A perfect rose just ready to bloom that definitely deserves to be here. She brings this campus honor. Unfortunately..."

A smirk. Her hand makes a sharp plucking motion as she yanks out the piece. "It's so very easy to pluck such a flower. And so high up where she doesn't belong, the ivy of ambition is sure to make her wither in time."

The piece is placed back, gently atop the jenga pile.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo leans back in his chair and stretches his legs out under the table, crossing them at the ankle. It is a demonstration of Takeo's practiced, and perfected art of being completely relaxed in any seating environment. He forgoes the hands behind the head look, and merely keeps his hands in his pockets, his eyes watching the President as he takes the center piece of the foundation and places it on top of the little wooden tower. He frowns, thinking what a supreme ass of a move that was.

He watches the next few moves and frowns slightly. He doesn't speak yet, just listens as people speak in the meeting. He takes a fraction of the time that Kasagami does, quickly removing a piece of his own, just below where Kasagami took hers. He studies the tower on where to place it, and then places it gently near the top.

Almost immediately his hand is back in his pocket. His eyes watching Kasagami, and then the rest of the room for their own thoughts on Kasagami's words.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

An announcement from their Disciplinary Executive? After a moment, Juri leans back in her chair, the front two feet rising slightly as her back arches. Arms overhead and reaching, she streeeeetches, all lassitude and arrogance. When the drawn bow of her spine relaxes Juri returns one white-clad elbow to the table and studies her nails, angling a slender hand nonetheless capable of heart-skewering strikes this way and that.

The Rose Signet adorning one finger gleams as a sunbeam catches it, briefly blinding anyone who looks her way. And in that moment, the deadly captain of the fencing team strikes.

Into the gap left by the gleam she lashes, arm snapped straight as a blade, extending one long finger -- the manicured nail sparkles in the light -- and...

Halfway up the Jenga tower a side peg flies free, arcing against blue sky and white clouds for a single breathless moment before Juri snaps it out of the air. The tower does not even tremble, as yet unaware of the wound it has been dealt. A smooth flourish, a snap of her wrist, and the slice of wood rests atop the stack, its placement precise atop Takeo's own piece.

She runs her fingers through that glorious mane, tossing thick curls, and pretends not to listen to Kasagami. Still, the naming of Utena Tenjou summons a curl of disdain to her lips.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Saionji mounts the chair from the side, places his feet atop the table, and pushes himself back until the chair's back feet are resting triangular on the ground. His arm swings loose, resting at the armpit on the back of the chair. That is his contribution to this round, intentional or not; a tiny shift in the table that makes the remaining pieces uneven.

Miki does not react to Kozue this time. If she could get his attention with something as simple as a bad pun, their relationship would be very different. Leaning forward, he carefully selects the piece that offers the least risk, eases it out a little with the tips of his fingernails, then slides it free with meticulous care.

"Is that what this is about?" Saionji snorts. "Tenjou? Is that what you're wasting our time with, Disciplinary Executive? You might as well ask what would happen if Secretary Kikukawa won the duels." He doesn't even glance at Yukino when referencing her, instead curling his lip at Touga. "Tell me you're not taking this seriously."

"Like a guard who won't take a bribe," Miki says. "At a prison with no one in it." He doesn't look at Kasagami, or anyone. "That's what it would be like."

"Ehh?" Saionji grimaces. "You look like you're in a good mood."

Hard to say why with Miki's blank face and shy voice, but Saionji's right, somehow.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yukino blushes a little at Saionji's crack but keeps her gaze fixedly on the table, if not on her notes. She's impressed by Juri's flair, though, and looks between her and Shizuru for a few moments, before picking the same tile that Shizuru did, a few turns ago, bringing it a level higher up the tower.

Meanwhile, Touga is the perfect prince -- intent upon each speaker (and each jenga opponent, in turn!), lips pursed thoughtfully, gaze level and grave with just the faintest sparkle of playfulness underneath. Nothing unseemly. Nothing... inappropriate.

This somehow projects the sense that he's taking this all very seriously, and that he's not taking single individual particularly seriously at all. Which isn't to say that he is rude. He just wears authority as easily, and as well, as the cords on his chest. It's a part of him. Why pretend to be lesser than the paragon that he is?

The question of Utena Tenjou passes around the table, and some people keep their cards close to their chest while others have something to say. The president himself gazes, eyes half-lidded, into the middle distance, as though imagining the Engaged floating off in the sky, and murmurs, half in response to Saionji, half in answer to Kasagami, "It is such a pity what happened... to her lovely hair."

His eyes open more widely to stare directly into Kasagami's. For the moment, he isn't playing jenga, but rather pin the blame on the donkey.

The moment passes when he picks a randomly easy tile to ascend up the tower. Sometimes one can enjoy effortless success. "And yes, congratulations, Miki-kun." He's warm, big-brotherly in his approval. One gets a feeling it isn't the simile he's applauding.

Then he inclines his chin towards his Vice President on his right. It is her turn.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

Touga gets a warm, entirely insincere smile as he indicates Shizuru. Wholly unnecessary. Wholly present.

Shizuru smiles at Kozue's joke about the letters. She doesn't actually say anything about it but she does glance at the younger girl for a few moments. Then though...

Then Kasagami is talking, and looking warmly at her, which says a lot on its own about the Disciplinary Executive's mental state. She grows bored at the talk of savoring quickly, glancing down at her fingernails as if to make that obvious and clear. Kasagami wants to ask them a question, and Shizuru only lifts an eyebrow at the question of Utena Tenjou.

"Are you concerned with Utena Tenjou-kun's honor," Shizuru asks Kasagami placidly, "Or are you concerned with your obvious feelings for her? Loveliness is not a reason to wear the rose signet, and the Student Council chambers are not the place for your romantic entanglements."

Two places below Shizuru's original piece she takes one from the left, lightly pulling it... and placing it up above the tower.

"Besides," she comments, lifting her left hand and showing off her rose signet. "Whatever revolution, if any, that that girl would bring... It isn't the one I would bring. It isn't the one you would bring. That alone makes it unacceptable to each and every one of us, because if it doesn't I welcome any such person to stop wasting our time. There can be only one victor. I've told you that before."

A quirk of her lips at Miki. "...You are in a good mood, Kaoru-kun. How interesting."

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

She doesn't look like she's glowering at Kasagami, but there's some shade in that look as she listens to her. Before offering a congratulatory look at Shizuru as if to say 'well played.'

Still Araki's question is one she carefully weighs as she takes her turn against at the jenga tower- up and leaning over, "What kind of revolution do I think she would bring about?"

Sayaka says -- she thinks the three of you can go back to the way things were, that she knows it seems impossible, but that it could be even better this time. That she thinks it could happen. For what it's worth, Kozue... I think so too.

This time she chooses another piece, three notches up- grasping it as she slowly offers her own opinion, "None whatsoever."

The piece strikes the table with a clatter. The tower wobbles but does not fall.

"Pretty words Araki but-" She settles back down in her seat crossing one leg over the other.

"-you're still too naive." She's not even looking at her. Instead her head is dipped, her bangs partially shading a face that's now seen all over the city, "A girl who's concerned about such a thing as the honor she brings our campus couldn't hope to wither a dandelion with their ambition."

Saionji's statement doesn't grab her attention at all. Until Miki fields his own view. She doesn't look at him. It's hard to say what she's thinking in those moments.

But there's a flicker of something in her eyes as Saionji notes his good mood.

She doesn't need to look at his blank face or hear his shy voice. A decision is made. It's a fairly easy one- after all it's between just two.

Suddenly acting like she's entirely disinterested as to whatever Touga might be congratulating Miki for, she leans to her left- towards Takeo, eyes lidded. "Going somewhere later?" It's not quite a whisper- though it's not particularly loud either.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Juri doesn't play Kasagami's game. There's a small shrug towards the brilliantly orange-haired picture of arrogance, length, and beauty. Amusement dances in her eye for a moment.

But Saionji shows her nothing but dismay. Kasagami outright laughs in that bold, boisterous way, enjoying the moment of Saonji's irritation. Delicious.

"So quick to judge, Captain! Trust me, there's a point to all of this. I wouldn't waste anyone's time here, not even yours. Still. Good answer, Captain." There's a hint of venom that never quite leaves her voice whenever she speaks to the green haired kendo captain.

Kasagami's head tilts as she looks to Miki, and that ever present stopwatch. Lips purse for a moment.

"What a bleak world that would be. Passionless, no drive." Mutters Kasagami thoughtfully.

A hand goes to her chest as Touga mentions the girl. "A terrible shame, isn't it? I'm sure whoever's responsible will pay dearly." Kasagami looks right back, unwavering, with the hint of a smirk. She'll take that blame if she must.

Kozue, though, has her eye narrowing. "Am I? I suppose we'll just have to see about that, won't we? Look forward to it, Kozue-chan. Not a thing? Interesting."

But it's Shizuru that gets Kasagami's full attention. Eyes close, and she lets out a small breath. Her heartbeat, hammering in her chest, slows a fraction as she gets her raging emotions back under control. "You're as cruel as you are perceptive, Vice President. Whatever feelings I may or may not have for her are entirely irrelevent here. She is our enemy, plain and simple. But as this school's Disciplinary Executive, it's my job to make sure our students excell and uphold the honor of Ohtori. Utena Tenjou, as the Engaged, lacks the ambitions that we all have. You're absolutely right. You see, her revolution to me would be the same as a castle made of glass. Beautiful, but fragile. The slightest wrong tap and the entire thing shatters. And the people in that castle are cut to shreds by the shards of her foolish innocence."

Kasagami turns, looking out towards Ohtori, towards the Forest and Arena in the distance.

When she turns back, all of her usual theater and enthusiasm is drained away. She's formal, mouth a line, hands behind her back. Her voice is serious, almost reverent. One finger rubs the rose signet ring on her hand.

"Ladies and gentlemen of the Council, I won't let this continue. I, Kasagami Araki, Disciplinary Executive of Ohtori do hereby challenge you all to Duel. I seek to claim the right to face the Engaged, Utena Tenjou, for the hand of the Rose Bride." Comes her voice, clear and carrying with a fierce note to it. Her heart is as hot, painfully so, as her body feels once more the flames. But this time, only of her desire to rule and take.

To never lose anyone again.

"May the best man or woman with blade and ambition enough Revolutionize the World!"

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

And then, she reaches out once more, swiping a piece from the bottom of the jenga tower. She doesn't even look to see if it holds, rolling the piece between her fingers.

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo snrks at Shizuru calling Kasagami out. He studies the tower and Kasagami's choice for a moment, before he blinks at being spoken too. His eyes glance over to Kozue and he says calmly, "I am going to buy a Strawberry Shortcake before I head back to my dorm." He then adds as an after thought; "And maybe some donuts." He gives Kozue a confused look, before he looks over to Kasagami.

He studies Kasagami for a long hot second and then says calmly. "Utena-chan has proven her worth in the arena. If you have something to say, say it plainly, and spare the big flowery words." He shrugs a shoulder. He doesn't LIKE agreeing with his rival, and he feels a shade dirtier for it. But he does have a point.

Kasagami then makes her suggestion and he SNORTS. "Let me get this striaght. You think, that you are worthy of facing Utena-chan?" He gives Kasagami a sly smile. "What? Don't get enough sword fights in Kendo Club? Need to add real steel to complete your love letter?" And what does HE know of love letters? He's planning on buying a Shortcake instead of jsut saying the words. He gives her that mischievous grin of his. "It might be easy," he begins, calling the kettle black, "to just ask her on a date."

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Juri watches Miki out of the corner of her eye, annoyed that Saionji would notice the boy's mood before she did, and thus catches the sparking of the usual trouble as Kozue makes her move. She shakes her head minutely, but without hope that Miki will heed any such warning.

"It doesn't matter. Tenjou will not." Irritated and bored by the topic of conversation, she dismisses it altogether. "Get to the point, Araki."

When Kasagami does so, belying earlier words of apparent praise, an orange eyebrow arches. So she recognizes the foolishness of the girl's dreams, then. Juri still pretends not to listen, but this time the tilt of her head betrays her to those who know her well.

Juri eyes the tower, its pieces askew thanks to Saionji's little earthquake and still trembling from the most recent strike of the one-eyed swordswoman addressing them, and ultimately nudges an edge piece free with two taps of her nail. She steals from the sparsest side, and the tower sways in nonexistent wind before stabilizing.

There is no relief in how she sags back against the chair. Zero. Zilch. She is poise and calm and nonchalance.

"Bold of you," she remarks in reply to Kasagami's challenge. She leaves it at that, and a smirk.

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Miki looks down, his pale cheeks coloring a little at Touga's congratulations, not to mention the unexpected attention he's getting from others around the table. "I... won last night. A music competition." Feeling self-conscious even for saying that much, he tries to justify it in a lower voice, at least for the sake of Juri's opinion of him, "For the first time since... Kozue!"

Miki's sudden bark of frustration is tightly restrained. "Please be aware that your behavior here reflects on both of us," he says, his voice unnaturally mild.

"It's nothing to worry about, Miki-kun." Saionji seems amused. "He could definitely use what she's offering."

Miki shakes his head slightly.

Kasagami's challenge brings Saionji's feet to the ground at last, the chair clacking as he settles himself with some satisfaction. "Now, you are talking some sense," he intones, his long dark brows sharpening. "How stupid of me to doubt," he tells Touga, with the sort of comfortable sarcasm that speaks of long friendship. All of a moment, his fist is tight around a Jenga piece.

Miki is holding one as well, between two fingers, having withdrawn it from one of the few center pieces left standing. He's wondering what happens to the Rose Bride if the new Engaged was after the old Engaged all along. Hesitating, he slides it right back where he got it from, which may not be how the game is meant to be played.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"Ah," Shizuru says as Kozue speaks, "I believe I told you you were naive, as well. Are you planning to give us all the chance in turn? How considerate!" Kozue's earlier look got no obvious response, of course. The talk of the revolution she has already called irrelevant, in this case. So she'll listen to Kasagami... and laugh softly when Kasagami suggests she wouldn't waste any of their time. She does not, however, laugh at the matter of Utena's hair.

She closes her fingers slightly, irritated. "How lucky that our troublesome Engaged has such a protector."

Buthere's the rest of what she says that matters; Shizuru watches each moment of the struggle for her to regain control, and she smiles when she's alled cruel. The smile doesn't reach her eyes; instead she keeps her attention locked on Kasagami.

"...So this is how you choose to justify to yourself, Araki-kun? How foolish." A long, slow shrug of her shoulders. "By all means, cling to your delusions of nobility."

Pointedly, Shizuru takes the piece Miki just put back and lifts an eyebrow at Kozue. She was scolded, after all. "...How nice that you won, Kaoru-kun."

Tap it goes on the top.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yukino is working overtime as a stenographer now. Her pen disappears inside a cloud of motion above a notebook whose pages ruffle with every flip, flip, flip. Everything preserved, for the records. Including Miki Kaoru's victory. "Congratulations again, Miki-kun," she echoes, softly.

But then...

"This is an exceptional situation," Touga murmurs, after the buzzing around the table reaches its nadir, and after sharing a familiar glance, and grin, with Saionji. His voice is as heartstopping as his looks, instantly and totally rearranging the framing of the conversation in just a few slender words. "Unprecedented in the history of our Student Council. I think it is worth stating plainly the stakes that Kasagami-chan is neglecting to mention: never mind any hypothetical revolution, the Engaged herself is currently very fragile, period, having been..."

He searches for the word delicately.

"...drained of her potency in a tragic, ah, accident."

Which sounds like euphemism, but isn't; it really was an accident that the Wolkenritter wound up anywhere near a Duelist. Afterwards they were warned to stay firmly out of that garden. These roses are not for them to harvest.

He winks and smirks at Kasagami, as though acknowledging how charming and honorable she is, proposing an all-out assault on the Engaged while she's so vulnerable. Certainly it's a strong implication (alongside his prior words) that Kasagami already knew -- that she was somehow involved in this downfall.

This is also a time to share an appreciative glance with Shizuru 'delusions of nobility' Fujino.

"She'll be unusually easy... in the ring," Ah, the smile in his voice, hotter than any on his lips, "So the victor of this particular challenge bracket has a unique... opportunity... to seize the Rose Bride for himself. Or herself," he generalizes, gamely.

In a way, they'll be selecting a new champion by bracket, since the current one appears to have been disqualified.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Touga pulls the opposite tile from the far-down one Kasagami just did, leaving the entire tower dangling on a single, slender piece of wood.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

At first Kozue pretends to be ignoring Kasagami's reply- mostly because right now she's pretending Takeo is interesting to her. But that dull eyed look of confusion he gives her is sort of adorable in it's obliviousness. Part of her wishes she could pat him on the head.

Frankly it doesn't matter if he realizes her intentions or not. The fact that he doesn't is even rather convenient. It means he's less likely to turn her down right now, "Mind some company back at your dorm?"

That's less than a whisper as well.

Miki's bark of frustration is her reward. She only looks at him out of the corner of her eye, pretending most of her focus is still on Takeo, "Shouldn't you being paying attention to the meeting- Miki?"

For the first time in her life she's thankful that Kyouichi Saionji spoke up. Something she never thought would happen. Another small offer is made towards Takeo- her voice only slightly lower than before, but still quite audible, "You know. If you wanted. I could get you a few passes to my next show... for you and your friends." -given Takeo's friends, this has more purpose than it even seems.

It's only after the challenge is issued with all of its theatrics that she finally replies. "Is that all Araki?" Her hair filters through her fingertips as she brushes it back.

"I accept of course. Though are you sure you're in any in state to issue that kind of challenge to anyone- after the thrashing you took in the hallway ?"

There's something not so nice about her smile, "It wouldn't be kind of you to poison anyone's triumph with the idea they only defeated you due to a handicap presented by your injuries."

Kozue doesn't ask which Kaoru-kun Shizuru's referring to. She's fairly sure she knows.

But then Touga mentions precisely that Utena has been drained of her potency- this causes her to straighten somewhat. And she listens.

A smirk touches her expression as she takes that conclusion to the next logical level she gives Kasagami this mirth-filled look, "Ah- It seems that somehow you've managed to poison the victor's triumph twofold." But the fact that Kasagami offered the challenge deflects most accusations of weakness from her- from the others. It's not so poisoned at all for the rest of them, "Way to go Araki."

The uneven nature of the pieces thanks to Saionji's shake and Touga's gambit causes her to decide to act more carelessly. She chooses a piece not so far from the bottom recklessly picking one side that's jutting out a little more than the others. The wobble it gives of the stack of wooden pieces is precarious.

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami manages to keep a straight face even as the likes of the impressive Juri and Takeo shout down her flowery, long winded speech. Each gets a slight narrow of the eye in annoyance. After all, moments like this should be savored, or so thinks Kasagami.

She isn't without a final, cheeky bow towards Juri, and a smirk.

Only to turn straight to Takeo, gaze deadly serious. "Think? I am worthy, Takeo Akamizu. But whatever we think, the only thing that will matter is the sound of clashing steel. I'll be looking forward to seeing you in the Arena. There is, after all, nothing more enjoyable and intimate than two strong people clashing with all of their hearts and souls."

Her arms cross once more, and her smile is almost shark-like. Her eye screams in pure, martial desire.

"No. It's never enough. Weren't you listening? Right now, the only thing I want to give Utena is my blade."

That same passion that she favored Takeo with is given to Saionji, only dipped in pure acid. "I knew you out of everyone would understand me, Captain."

She doesn't say anything about Miki's accomplishment. Juri and the others have that handled better than she ever could.

A shiver runs down Kasagami's spine at Shizuru's words, and it's not the pleasant kind of shiver. "It's a shame, Shizuru-san. I try to learn from you, senpai, I do. But on some things, I'm afraid might never see eye to eye. A pity. Or maybe you just haven't found the right way to reach me." Opines Kasagami with a hand to her chest.

Whatever she might feel at Utena's current weakness, the pure opportunity it prevents is too much for Kasagami not to reach for. But even more than that, it presents an end-run around those feelings she almost, but can't quite shout aloud to the others.

To not lose the girl she would have be her Prince. Her gaze breaks with the others. Is that shame? Or obsession?

She's smiling when she turns back to the others.

"And so, no matter what, things will be put right. There won't be any more abberations like her contesting for that Power."

Her eye closes at that wink. Her heart breaks a little bit. She's excited, but something feels wrong. And she can't quite figure out what.

Letting the implications float unheeded, it's Kozue that's gifted with an absolutely venomous look. "A simple brawl won't hinder me. I guess you wouldn't know, but I am made of sterner stuff than most. Don't worry. I will be able to show all of you my strength. Besides, only once we've claimed the title Engaged will any of us feel a real sense of victory. So don't worry about any 'poison'. It doesn't exist."

And then with a smile, she sits back down. Her feet go back up. "And that is all I have for you, everyone. Thank you for your time and patience."

Then she's squinting at that jenga game again. Once more, she picks one of the few remaining side pieces, trying to make the whole wooden castle that much precarious, even as she risks sending it all tumbling down. She snaps her fingers.

"Yukino-san, some tea for everyone might be nice. My throat is bone dry."

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

There is a raised eyebrow at Kozue, but he shrugs. "Sure. I'm pretty confident I've got a second controller someplace, I can always get some extra donuts." However then Kasagami speaks and he stands up to look DOWN at Kasagami. "The only thing that has been said is remotely accurate is that the Power of Revolution is important, and that nobody will be pleased with another's revolution." He puts his hands down on the table, hard, heedless of what it might do to the Jenga tower.

He gives a very playful and mischievously dark smile. "If any of you want this power. You'll have to go through me, and I promise you, I won't be a weak and defenseless fencer. I will bring every drop of power I can and swat you down like a fly." He rolls his shoulders and stands up with a slight push of the table. "I'll be waiting for who ever thinks they can face me, with blades bare, and feet set." His eyes are narrowed, DARING somebody to challenge him right now.

<Pose Tracker> Anthy Himemiya [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Miki takes the bait, and Juri listens as his sister deftly steals triumph from him yet again. "Well done, Miki," she offers, the only time warmth glimmers beneath the ice, but she knows him well enough to know that won't help much. Later, the fencing captain resolves, she'll take him to the court and teach him to better guard himself. She lounges back in her chair, angling her torso so she can drape her left arm along the back of it, and regards Touga.

"Not just the Rose Bride," she points out. Anthy does not interest her.

And thus far, neither does this bracket. Why should she not just await the ultimate winner and challenge them? They can create all the artificial competitions they like; in the end, only one victory matters. She knows herself fully capable of beating every single person at the table, and that casual disregard is written in her easy slouch.


Beneath deceptively heavy lids, the Lioness of Ohtori studies Kasagami Araki. Kozue turns the blade of her tongue on the one-eyed duelist and Araki lashes back. Words, so many words... She wonders how the girl moves in the Arena. All aggression, Juri guesses, and probably easily baited. Perhaps someday she'd find out for herself.

For the time being, Juri recrosses long legs and eyes the Jenga tower. Takeo's bluster sends it into a sinuous wobble, shaking its pinched 'waist' where a solitary slat holds the whole thing up. Another toss of those glorious curls communicates extreme disinterest in this little game as well as Kasagami's, and she continues to lean against the back of her chair as the whole thing threatens to come crashing down.

<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

An exceptional situation. Of course.

Touga looking for words delicaely gets a pleasant look from Shizuru at his right hand, and she says nothing about it for the moment. She's been given charge of Wolkenritter briefly before, of course. But right now...

Shizuru actually shares an appreciative glance of her own back with Touga those hers is mock-sad, as if this heavy issue might be done.

The bracket is to come, beyond Shizuru's chances to nettle Kasagami here. She continues not to look much at Kozue and Takeo for the moment, entirely above the matter... Though when Kozue assumes which Kaoru Shizuru was speaking to, she's quite right.

"My, my," she agrees with some of this, and looks at Kasagami again finally.

Kasagami addresses her and Shizuru lifts an eyebrow. "And yet you still speak so familiarly to me. Whether or not we ever see eye to eye... I think you and I both know the best way to reach you." She taps over her heart. She... could be metaphorical in her meaning here. It's possible. Surely she just means the rose. But she and Kasagami had a conversation once, months ago...

"You misunderstand," Shizuru points out. "There is no we in the Duels. Perhaps you're well-suited to our dear Engaged after all?"

Shizuru shrugs at the enga game with both shoulders, "Shouldn't our dear hostess be the one to fetch our tea?"

"The Rose Bride is awfully charming, though," Shizuru comments to Juri. What she doesn't do is make another move on the game. Instead she watches the others as they take their chances to play... But especially Kasagami.

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yukino ducks her head, but doesn't stop writing -- and doesn't get up, especially after receiving Shizuru's tacit support. "Sorry," she murmurs, shaking her head, "But you're my junior in every respect." (Accurate: Yukino is in a higher grade, a higher student council position, and has just straight up been here longer.) "You may prepare the tea, Araki-san."

She's not in the habit of serving drinks to Disciplinary Executives who aren't named Haruka Suzushiro. Also, maybe she's here for a reason other than taking notes.

There is a signet ring on her hand, after all, like everyone present.

While she continues her note-taking, Touga -- who seems to have enjoyed this turn of events, savoring it like a fine wine, as he has most of the interchanges, watching the back and forth like an amiably amused spectator-slash-referee -- once again drags the conversation back to heel with more of that effortless social grace.

Which is to say that his voice cracks like a whip.

A cultured whip!!

"So, the rules," he recites, "Since it's been a surprisingly long time since we've done a full challenge bracket, revisiting them won't go amiss... contestants sign up by putting their cord," as in uniform cord, "Onto the table. They have twenty-four hours in which to do so. Then the bracket will be matched against each other by lot; the ultimate victor will face the most recent loser."

That would be Takeo, who gets a bemused nod. There were probably more polite ways to phrase that, but affable frankness suits Ohtori's playboy prince as well.

"And that victor has the inalienable right to immediately challenge the Engaged. Of course, if you two want to challenge each other here and now, you're welcome to do so... but it won't be within the context of the bracket. So, Kasagami-chan, even if you win, you'd still have to beat him twice. Of course, if once isn't a problem, I don't know that that would be an issue...?"

He leans forward and breathes on the jenga tower -- and it collapses.

The sun sparkles off his smile.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

Kasagami states she wouldn't know. There's such untamed savagery in the Kaoru girl's smile. An indication that if Kasagami weren't on the other side of the table, there's a chance she might be tempted to rip her throat out with her teeth, "You're right. I wouldn't know. I'm just another pretty face after all..." The next comment isn't meant for Kasagami at all, "...it's what Tsuru-san pays me to be."

That's even a blatant lie. Tsuru doesn't pay her with any kind of currency she feels the others might understand.

The smile disappears when Takeo mentions a second controller, or rather it changes- there's a long sort of sigh, as if from a teacher being patient with a particularly dull pupil. Slowly she leans over, really close to his ear, and whispers, "I'm not sure we'll need a controller for the kind of games I have in mind..."

And realizing instantly he likely won't get it, she adds, "... or clothes."

There's still a possibility he won't- but if he continues to be oblivious it doesn't matter. Simply the act of whispering near his ear is enough for someone else in the room.

Juri expresses no interest in the Rose Bride. Shizuru says she's quite charming. Kozue hmmms as if debating it herself and- "Perhaps that kind of engagement would make an honest woman out of me..." She looks directly at Miki for perhaps the first time tonight, "...what do you think Miki? Would you be happy for us?"

That kind of challenge is unmistakable.

Yukino's response to Kasagami actually wins a snrk, as Kozue puts a hand over her mouth to suppress her laughter. The secretary winning so many points of respect in Kozue's eyes, in that moment.

She listens to Touga on the rules of the challenge bracket. She watches as Touga breathes on the tower- as it collapses with a clatter and- "Understood. Though there's one more thing, President Kiryuu. I feel that our dear Vice-President- Fujino-senpai ought to be the one to pull the lots."

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"Why is that, Kaoru-chan?" Touga wonders.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

"Division of labor." Kozue replies immediately, "To lighten the load on your shoulders."

<Pose Tracker> Utena Tenjou [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

"You're so sweet, Kaoru-chan... to care so much for my shoulders." Touga's smile is all for her.

(Well, and for Miki.)

"Certainly, Shizuru-san can pull the lots."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

And so, Kasagami Araki is up like a bolt of lightning. "You know, Takeo-kun, you're good at completely misunderstanding everything someone says. Women hate that sort of thing."

And then she's staring the young man in the face with a look that's absolutely joyous, completely at odds with her previous words.

"But that look in your eyes, those words...perfect. Don't lose that look. I want to see it many more times when we face each other, Takeo-kun!" Comes Kasagami, voice low for just a moment, but dripping with excitement. And then she turns away, back to her chair. She eyes the game critically. Juri's addition has made it a near-toppling mess. Kassie looks impressed as she kicks her feet back up.

This, of course, manages to miss her being sized up by Juri.

Kasagami thinks back. "Heh, I am an idiot. Of course. You're absolutely right, Shizuru-san. That will be the way of things between us. I'm not sure whether to cry in despair or weep in joy."

There's a visible twitch to her features though. Something about Shizuru's statement is like a cold dagger straight to her heart. And then, between Yukino and Shizuru, it's like having her knees hacked right out from under her atop a staircase.

There's utter silence from Kasagami for a good minute. Her head leans back. Finally, she just sighs. Sometimes even she just has to concede.

"You know, I think I'll just wait and have some coffee later."

Down goes the game, and Kasagami is looking at Touga. It's her first bracket. She listens with rapt attention. A hand goes to her pocket. A chord is placed onto the table immediately.

"Hmm. I like how you think, Touga-san. Honestly, I wouldn't mind beating him three or four times if I had to. But this does make things simpler."

She's up again, and over to Takeo. There's a rose, dark crimson, offered to the young man.

"Takeo-kun. I hereby challenge you to a Duel. My reason? Your words tonight are too perfect. I can't wait. I'm sorry, I'm a greedy, impatient woman. I want to see that resolved, confident voice singing out from your sword instead of your mouth."

A glance over to Kaoru. That look sends another shiver down her spine. So fierce. So raw and animalistic.

"Right now...you're very, very pretty, Kaoru-chan. Save that look for me."

<Pose Tracker> Takeo Akamizu [Ohtori Academy (11)] has posed.

Takeo gives Kasagami that smile of his. It's one that in Jr. High at Jubaan got him in a lot of trouble, and would have gotten him in just as much here if he hadn't discovered he was Lancelot. However, he fires that smile, full power at Kasagami now. He snatches the Rose and doesn't break eye contact with her. "Are you sure you want to do this? Because I'm pretty sure two humiliating defeats might break that pretty little heart of yours." He really wants to take credit for that. But the reality is it was a memory of Lancelot speaking.

Accessing those memories his eyes suddenly go wide. His next words are in French as he says, "Oh. Je comprends pourquoi nous n'avons pas besoin de vêtements maintenant. J'ai compris. Je l'ai."* He clears his throat and smiles that same smile he just shot Kasagami to Kozue. He takes the young lady's hand and brings it to his lips, where the hand is brushed ever so softly by by Takeo's lips. His eyes locking onto Kozue's. "Je suis désolé. Il y a une autre fille. Cependant, je suis sûr que nous aurions eu un merveilleux ... Jeu."** He squares his shoulders and then says in Japanese, "Co-op. That's definately a co-op game." He says, as he turns a very ... adorable shade of beet red.

  • TRANSLATED TO JAPANESE FOR YOUR READING ENJOYMENT: Oh. I get why we don't need clothing nom. I get. Got it.
    • ALSO TRANSLATED I am sorry. There is another girl. However I am sure we would have had a wonderful ... Game.
<Pose Tracker> Shizuru Fujino [Ohtori Academy (12)] has posed.

"You said it," Shizuru comments to Kasagami when she says she's an idiot, shrugging helplessly. "Though really, insulting the Student Council in that way..."

Shizuru is pleased at the fact that Yukino doesn't so much as move to get the tea. She apologizes, but that's its own sort of appropriate response... and by appropriate, Shizuru means cutting.

And it's very good. Shizuru smiles at Yukino and then at Kasagami. "Doesn't that sound good to everyone?"

But then there is the matter of the lots and the brackets; Shizuru watches Touga for a moment, and then not, listening regardless. She considers it, propping up her chin on one of her hands. Right up until...

Maybe something would make an honest woman of Kozue, but this much has surprised Shizuru. The tower clatters down and she doesn't so much as move, as if entirely unconcerned by this matter. Indeed, she doesn't seem to care at all until Touga says that Shizuru-san may pull the lots. There's a soft sigh. "My. All this difficulty... Very well. I accept this honor." Boredly... As she so often is in here.

"It should be fun."

But Kozue and Takeo are now... quite engaged in a different way, and hizuru straightens somewhat, sighing again. She looks at Kasagami.

At Kasagami asking Kozue to share a look, after her challenge. "One partner at a time," Shizuru suggests. "Honestly, how shameless."

<Pose Tracker> Tsuru [Infinity Institute (10)] has posed.

Despite Miki's best efforts, Touga and Juri are both clearly aware of his tension, and Miki can no longer tell if their praise is genuine or made of pity. Kozue did that. He resets the stopwatch.


"Twenty four hours?" Saionji chuffs. He's already dragging off his uniform cord. "Anyone indecisive enough to need to think about this should be disqualified right away. They'll just get hurt." His cord slaps down on the table beside the tower.


Miki stares down at his lap. He needs to think about everything.


Or clothes...


"I would be happy for you," he says tautly. "And sad for her."


A hatred like swallowed ink spreads in Miki. As if Takeo Akamizu deserves to refuse his sister, to pity her, for the august achievement of sitting next to her. He knows that anyone who looks will see that the tips of his ears are red. Maybe Kozue deserves to be here more than he does. She's good at these games and he never has been.


Touga is different, and safer in this. Miki knows he wouldn't be taken in. He feels discomfited as Kozue speaks to the President regardless.

"Hey, Miki-kun," Saionji interrupts, serious. "Don't worry about it. We all know already. You can't fight anymore." He speaks of it with sympathy and disgust admingled, as if Miki suffered from some gruesome disease.




Miki has stopped the watch again.

Drawing his cord free, Miki tosses it across the table, where it skids to rest in front of Kozue. "I'm fine," he says. His pianist fingers ripple on the stopwatch. "Better than ever." He looks at Kasagami for a moment, and then Touga. Both taller and stronger than he is, more fierce and confident. Miki doesn't necessarily have to win to win, does he? Is he bad at intrigue, or has he just been too nice to try?

"I can fight the same way all of you do," Miki decides.

<Pose Tracker> Kozue Kaoru [Ohtori Academy (8)] has posed.

You know it's funny- how living around Miki Kaoru how keenly aware one was to the clicks of the stop watch. Did you know how he presses the reset button was subtly different than start- or stop?

She did.

"Shouldn't you be happy for both parties when an engagement is announced- Miki?"

She thinks he's simply a bad liar. She feels he wouldn't be happy for her at all.

"That's not the only part of you I care to look after- President Kiryuu."

The Assistant Disciplinary Executive vying against the head. It's an interesting thing- Kasagami showing all that bluster and confidence towards the possibility of having to beat him twice. It's a little disquieting to the Blue Princess.

She's a wild animal in her own way. Without respect for anyone's authority, certainly not Kasagami's as she tells her that she's very pretty. There's a tilt of her head like Kasagami is simply another being in her path to be consumed- on her way to her end goal.

She doesn't actually respond to her though. Because Takeo starts speaking French. There's this momentary sort of bewilderment as if something unexpected is happening, before she settles on a slightly coquettish look. She doesn't understand a word- but she let's him take his hand. And when his lips brush her hand lightly- there's this slight parting of her own as if she were pondering the meaning to that gesture.

But she doesn't flush- as shameless as Shizuru is suggesting. Except she knows right now Shizuru isn't quite addressing her either.

She let's him keep that hand for a moment longer before she turns it upwards, cupping the high schooler's chin, before brushing a hand against his cheek about ten seconds after, "So bold and so bashful at the same time... it's rather charming."

She of course doesn't know he turned her down. She hasn't guessed. ... She'll probably find that out after the meeting.

The pity in Saionji's words causes a brief spasm that ripples across her pretty face. Takeo is fortunate it doesn't reach her hand.

The stop button clicks. With her hand, on Takeo's cheek.

There's a cord out of the corner of her vision.

Her pretty blue eyes turn on that cord, her affect suddenly flat as gravity forces her hand away from Takeo's cheek, and back to her side.

She picks up the cord, and dangles it in the air- "Can you? Can you really dirty your hands like that Miki?"

She let's that cord drift lazily from side to side. A moment later she draws her own cord off, and placing it beside the other dangling cord in her hand, she slaps both of them down on the table. "Show me."

<Pose Tracker> Kasagami Araki [Ohtori Academy (10)] has posed.

Kasagami's eye narrows yet again, and she's glaring at Takeo heatedly. One hand grips her coat. Her breath comes a little faster. That look, it only manages to make her that much more angry and excited at once.

"On the contrary. I insist. Fire hardens wood. It's pretty difficult to break. I don't think you're capable of it. Oh, but by all means, don't accept. After all I would hate to accidentally hurt you to the point that you'll be in serious danger once I break you for a second time, Takeo-kun. I won't think any lesser of you."

But all of that bluster and aggression might be spoiled somewhat as Shizuru hits the mark nicely. Shizuru gets a cold look, that swiftly devolves into a 'tch' of annoyance. She lets the insults slide off. Or at least dig into her skin deeper like some kind of tick.

Her arms go wide. "Live fast, die young, Shizuru-san. Maybe you should be teaching me better manners if you find that upsetting." Taunts the young woman openly.

Her skin crawls too as she finds herself agreeing with Saionji. Can someone without such bold confidence be worthy of being on the Council? Kasagami Araki thinks not. And thus it is, she's grinning when Miki throws down his cord.

A bold move indeed. The look she shoots the young man is utterly approving. There's more to the young man than talented fingers and a stopwatch. The depths of the Kaoru twins are a mystery, and one that slowly is piquing Kasagami's interest. Especially as Kozue slaps her own down as well. She leans back in her chair once more, looking to the sky.

"I really am a lucky woman." Mutters Kasagami, with a content smile.