2017-10-16 - Quiet

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Shizuru takes Utena home after the duel.


Shizuru Fujino, Utena Tenjou


Shizuru's Mansion

OOC - IC Date:

10-16-2017 - 02-25-2015

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

The ride from the East Dorm on Southern Cross Island is long and uneventful, dark and comfortable enough. The lights of Tokyo flash by as they travel through the city and beyond to less crowded environs; the lights of the evening are in full swing for their trip. There is a moderate amount of traffic, given the hour, given where they are, but it's smooth, and quiet. Shizuru does not attempt to initiate conversation with her passenger or with her driver.

She has little need to. Her phone's screen emits a soft light as she makes arrangements in silence, but even that doesn't last. She simply waits. A little silence isn't so bad.

Now and then, the lights from the tinted windows glint against her engagement ring's stones.


When they stop, they stop in greenery. A traditional wooden house sits amidst a garden, stone and living both, in the shadow of Mount Mitake. It is well-kept, and quiet, far from the bustle of Tokyo proper. It is perhaps strange how quiet it remains when they stop. Shizuru turns to glance at Utena, and then when she is let out, picks Utena back up the same as when she did before. There are murmurings; "Her things..." But they aren't particularly important.

Up a set of stairs they go, Shizuru still in uniform, until the Vice President sets a normal girl on a futon in a largish room on tatami, layering a cover over her. Her things are set nearby. Just the next room over, Shizuru walks.

Soon, there is the sound of heating water and the scent of tea. Shizuru sits seiza at a low table, still silent.

The lights are on, in this room, though not in Utena's. Utena has a window, however, to a peaceful world outside.

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

Corpse. Doll. Princess. Girl.

Utena is all of these things and none of them.

She has a pulse, but it has no use.

She has eyes, but they see nothing.

She has a prince, but does not have a prince.

She defines tall and strong to some, but small and vulnerable to others, and neither is wrong. Neither is even better. Neither makes her more or less of a girl.

It does not do for a person to be in such an in-between state. It doesn't... go very well. Neither one thing nor the other, Utena is easy to pick up and move. The darkness and quiet of the car are kinder than the outside world, but even there, in the womb of the limousine, she is not reclaimed by sleep. Her own mind is not so kind.

She just sits, limply, eyes half-lidded but unclosed. If she's staring at the window, it's because her head flopped that way when she was placed there. Certainly she isn't staring out.

It's much the same at the house. Utena has no reaction at all to the beauty surrounding her; or to the room. She does not thank Shizuru for her intervention. In fact, it's questionable that she's even recognized the Vice President -- not once has her expression changed, lit up, with familiarity of any kind.

She lies on the tatami for a very long time. It is only the call of simple biology that sees her out of bed, in the middle of the night, creeping through the house like an amnesiac burglar or something -- knowing nothing of the layout or even which province she's in anymore, she does not so much skulk as wander.

She could easily be mistaken for a sleepwalker, and it might not even be a mistake; when no one's there inside, are they really awake? So pale that she's almost otherworldly, she could also be mistaken for a ghost. Again, her state of living is questionable enough that this might be more true than false.

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

Utena would not be the first ghost with reason to haunt Shizuru Fujino's home. Not that most would know where to find it, given how relatively rarely she is here.

Ghost or sleepwalker, Shizuru hears soft footsteps as she sits. Her tea is long since finished, the pot washed and dried and put away, the cups the same. The Vice President herself happens to be standing, arms crossed, still in her uniform as she looks out a window into nothing in particular. There are a few textbooks at a low table, a stack of paperwork that is not precisely schoolwork. They are still, untouched for some time.

Living, otherwordly; strong, vulnerable. Shizuru keeps her own counsel as to which might be which, if there's a difference. Instead, she hears footsteps, and the light of this room might be harsh compared to the darkness of the bedroom.

"Tenjou-kun," she greets without looking. "You can find a washroom on your left."

No explanation, no further statements. She doesn't sound unkind exactly; she sounds... Well, almost her usual. But she is just a little bit less absent. Idly, she rubs at her ring. She is only wearing the one on her finger now, the rose crest on a chain at her neck.

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

Utena turns scarlet, as though she's been caught perpetrating some awful misdeed. There's shame enough in her right now that the slightest inconvenience and the true, life-or-death ones, all feel the same. She really can't tell the difference.

Jerking a shy little nod at Shizuru still without quite looking at her, she heads to the left, and does not come out for a long time. Not so long that anyone should be concerned, but... she must have just sat there. Maybe she was looking at the mirror. Maybe she just gazed at the floor, or her old friend the ceiling.

Maybe she was hoping that if she waited long enough she wouldn't have to see anyone again.

Nevertheless, she emerges eventually, not cleaner than before but at least with an empty bladder. Also still in her (marred, dirty) uniform, they cut an odd pair, here in this hypertraditional space, like they're in Kyoto on the school trip or something. Except it feels like anything but a sleepover.

She starts to walk back to the futon, but slows to a stumbled stop as she passes her hostess. Desolation breeds incuriosity, but her surroundings are too great a mystery to go wholly ignored.

Without looking up from the tatami, a safer surface than Shizuru's face, she mumbles an inaudible, but probably intuitable, question. The sort to fiddle when she's worried, her own rose crest gets spun, too easily, around its finger by her other hand.

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

Shizuru quirks a small smile at the blush, but makes no real reaction other than that. The moment passes, and the older of the two waits, glancing up to the ceiling. The ceiling, after all, is Shizuru's old friend too. It's a mutual acquaintance.

But mostly she waits, and keeps her own hopes if any to herself. Not until the door opens again and Utena steps out does Shizuru appear even to barel move. At that point however she does let red eyes flicker in Utena's direction, watching her move to leave. Calling her curious would be accurate, but not precisely right either; it's a passive observation except when Utena finally speaks up... such as she does. Quiet, yes, but good enough. What was the actual question...?

It doesn't really matter, does it?

Shizuru turns her head, turns her body the rest of the way, and inclines her head at the pink-haired girl before her. "...We're in Tama, a ways outside the city proper." A Kyoto trip isn't all wrong, from Shizuru's still-present accent. "I have a house here, where I come to be alone, or to think."

A pause. "You won't be bothered." Shizuru tilts her head then, looking Utena over. "...Unless that wasn't your question, of course. In your position I'd have asked even less, frankly."

Shizuru steps away from the window, a half-step towards a low table. "You're welcome to take a seat. We're alone out here."

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

Utena leans against nothing, somehow. It isn't true of course but it seems true; it's like her flesh is so heavy on her bones, or maybe the other way around, her bones so heavy within her skin, that she just... sinks. With less attitude than a slump and more profound than a droop, the girl is withering the space she occupies simply by being there. Air would be a kinder use of the space.

She doesn't meet Shizuru's eyes right away but finally does allow her gaze to flicker upwards once she's done speaking. Red eyes meet blue for an electric second, and in that moment the older girl can clearly perceive an already blindingly obvious truth: Utena is not empty of anything.

She is full of despair.

But something of her must still coexist in there, because her headshake, while the barest clip of her sharp, sharp chin, is still -- not an argument. It's too gentle even to be a correction. "No," she says, dully, her eyes flickering as though she's surprised by the sound of her own voice. She's right to be -- it's cracked, parched, rough with more than just misery. It sounds... wrong.

Taking a couple of breaths doesn't clear Utena's throat, but it does give her the -- courage isn't quite the right word, more that she has to work up the will -- to try again.

No, she wasn't asking where she was. What does it matter? It doesn't matter.


Obediently, she follows Shizuru down to the table. She doesn't take seiza, just kind of flops down in a messy sprawl of bony limbs. It isn't a deliberate rejection of such things, just... too much energy.

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

Shizuru by contrast is effortlessly assured, with good posture despite a somehow clear relaxation. She seems bothered by essentially nothing, occupying little space and yet obviously present.

She is not particularly concerned with kindness, as a rule.

Shizuru spots that despair, and her eyes drink it in, considering softly as she mulls it over like something expensive to consider and analyze. How often has she considered what that feeling and moment would be like, in her?

...It's much more interesting that that bare, simple movement comes out. It surprises Shizuru herself just enough that she considers more Utena's question.

"Hmm," she remarks, and reflects that she was wrong. It does matter, what that question is and was.

Contrasting with Utena's unrestrained seat, Shizuru is all elegance and care... but for just that slight element of distance, of disaffection.

"A fair question," she admits. "It benefits me to have you out of the picture, after all. It makes my life a little bit simpler." Shizuru tilts her head, obviously examining Utena again, looking her up and down, each bony line of cheekbone and each shadow on her form.

"...But I don't like how this has gone." A light shrug, as the Vice President straightens. "Let's say it's because you showed me a good time on the dance floor. I'd like to claim a more noble motive..."

"Ah, well. I'm willing to help you, and I'm not asking something of you in return. Is that enough?"

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

Shizuru is a keen observer, and may remember that when Utena first entered the arena, she already looked like this. Is it worse now than it was then? Only as a matter of degree. Losing the duel was a significant moment, but it was also only one of a string of moments. Moments Shizuru is largely only aware of through faint echoes -- and the many strings Ends of the World leaves out in the world for her to feel out.

But this is a moment too.

Utena closes her eyes beneath Shizuru's examination -- and admission. Everything that comes after, the awfully-light explanation, the claim of relative altruism, she just kind of sits through. Her shoulders rise up almost to her ears in a defensive shrug, and then jerk back down, as though she has to remember to do so.

When she finally reopens them it's to look at the table rather than the girl. It's like she's trying to divine the future from wood grain instead of tea leaves. Or maybe not; the future seems like it's furthest from her mind, the thing she flinches from the most. She can barely bear the present.

She nods, once, without looking up. The sum total of her response is less of an acceptance, less of an acknowlegement, and more of a surrender. SHOULD she argue? Perhaps not; she was in dire straights, after all. But this level of total acceptance doesn't feel like Utena at all, either.

Guiltily -- would she be feeling that? -- she straightens up a little, starting to mirror Shizuru's posture. Her lips spasm. Did that hurt, sitting up? No one has had a chance to see how injured she was before she entered the arena, much less after, but signs point, at the least, to 'yes'.

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

The moments are part of the draw for Shizuru; she has observed Utena before, and spent some time considering rumor and secondhand accounts of this... girl. But seeing them for herself is more interesting, on the one hand, as well as something... Else.

Whatever the something else is, Shizuru is watching now.

The table is lovely. It's old, not particularly special to any account, but it has a charm as a result. It belongs here, is somehow peaceful and calming in its wood grain and simple lines. It speaks more of past than of present.

A surrender should be useful. It should be valuable, to have Utena here in her power, far away from anything else. ...But it isn't the girl Shizuru came to hate in watching from afar, and it isn't...

"That hurt," Shizuru points out simply, leaving aside her indirect ways for a moment to speak clearly. "I recommend that you let me have a look at your injuries. I've done well enough for my own, from time to time."

Shehe pauses, her thumb rubbing at her engagement ring's band as she lifts that same hand to brush a bit of her hair behind her ear, watching from another angle. "Mm..."

"That's not the whole answer. I'm not entirely sure what to make of you. I thought I had you figured out, but I don't think I have."

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

Utena's gaze flickers again, as though she's been stung. Shizuru didn't say anything offensive, but... well. Well, one moment she was there for was when Kasagami said something similar (if more bitterly), at the challenge.

"Sorry," Utena repeats, now as then, without looking up from the table. Sorry that she isn't the person everyone seemed to think she was. Sorry that she's not so easy to figure out. Sorry that she's turned out to be -- one word Kasagami used was pathetic, and from the doleful downturn of the younger girl's lips, she's inclined to agree.

As though on strings, she slowly, sorely gets back to her feet, practically a limb at a time, and -- not wincing, but also noticably not wincing. Apparently she's having another go at stoicism, probably to try to avoid burdening Shizuru further with alternatives such as whining or weeping. It is impossible to be called stoic when your eyes are that sad, though.

Although she wasn't instructed to do so, she topples back onto the futon, which seems like probably the best first aid platform in these two rooms she's seen. Which is another way of saying that she falls back into darkness. Since her tatami room is not lit per se.

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

Ah, there it is. Shizuru's eyes linger on that flickering gaze, on the downturn of Utena's lips. It may be a strange feeling, being catalogued in that way. It is one of the many reasons that the Vice President can be off-putting to those subject to her scrutiny, that she doesn't tend to hide that look.

"I believe you are," Shizuru comments about Utena's apology. "But it doesn't bother me."

In the display of Utena's attempt at stoicism, Shizuru remains where she is; she lifts not one finger, twitches not one eyebrow, makes no motion to help. Only when Utena stands does Shizuru do the same. She makes a stop along the way, opens a drawer, and walks to the futon with a worn first aid kit and a bottle of water. A graceful hand pulls a switch, lighting the corner just enough that she'll be able to see.

Shizuru brings the light with her, this time, and kneels beside Utena. "...I won't pretend to know how you feel," she says simply. "I don't."

She remains silent for a long few moments, considering. "...Mm." She actually laughs, faintly. "Would you believe that this is an unusual situation for me?"

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

Shizuru's willingness to allow Utena her dignity is a kindness, if one bestowed in silence. But there are still consequences to putting on such a show; she can see it, in what happens after her visitor surrenders her weight to the futon. It's impossible to literally see, much less care for, her injuries with all those clothes in the way -- Utena's take on the Ohtori winter uniform is utterly skinless, long sleeves, long pants, even a high neck -- but they are echoed in her face.

The way tiny pearls of sweat paint her temples, and her eyes take on a glassy sheen. The way her breathing hitches at what should be the apex of inhalation, wincing away from allowing her lungs to expand fully. The way the last of her color drains away as surely as water from a too-long shower, now with an edge of chill, empties out the bottom. That paleness is ghostlike in the gloom, catching all the light of Shizuru's lamp.

She is in no way the game, spunky thing who might crack a joke to try to ease Shizuru's tension in turn. The well of her humor has run dry, and in any event it would just take too much effort. She doesn't answer the first statement, though she distantly agrees and appreciates, and the laughter... well. The girl just seems to drift even further away, what little light there is behind her eyes plunging deeper down the tunnel into her self.

To the extent that her gaze finds focus it is on the ceiling.

"I dunno," she manages to reply, and that pathetic deflection seems to deflate her further. But -- she does say more. Her eyes flicker. "I dun... don't... know very much about you either, senpai."

So maybe that's something they have in common after all.

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

Pride and dignity are dialects Shizuru was raised on as surely as the fact that her Kyoto origins still show through in the way that she speaks. ...The echo in Utena's face may say enough to start, but the older of the two can see the obstacle before her.

A more nervous person might be bothered more by t, but Shizuru remains analytical instead, spotting tension, guessing at what might cause it, spotting pallor and having too many possible explanations for same. The truth is that Shizuru does find herself a bit tense, a bit uncomfortable here, marked by another rub at her ring's band as she thoughtuly notes that laughter makes it worse.

Her hands shifting, Shizuru actually pauses at Utena's reply, surprised somewhat to receive one at all given the circumstances. A small smile finds its way onto her features. "Hmm. That's fair. I appreciate your candor."

Shizuru resumes her work at that, starting at Utena's collar to begin unbuttoning a uniform so that she can get a better look at injuries, one at a time. Her work is delicate, does not stay overlong on any given button, and is done entirely offhandedly, casually. "I'm accustomed to people not knowing me very well. Unlike you, it doesn't especially bother me. It simply is the way it is."

Pulling fabric apart with deft hands she considers. "...But I tend to keep it to myself when I'm injured, too, where possible."

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

Utena is as easy to undress as a doll, almost distressingly limp beneath Shizuru's hands. She doesn't return the small smile, but it casts more light onto her face than the lamp could. There Shizuru can see more of Utena's physical pain, but an emotional hurt too, a terrible vulnerability as she surrenders herself to another's care, and more than that, another's awareness of the extent of her condition. She retreats further into herself accordingly.

Letting her eyes flutter closed is another expression of that, but it's also, in a still, small way, an expression of trust.

As for the injuries...

As is her wont, all she wears beneath the uniform jacket is a gray sports bra. And it disguises nothing of the rather blatantly savage beating she must have undergone recently. These aren't the marks of Kasagami's particular breed of violence; these are the imprints of toes and bootheels that accosted her ribs. At her neck, a breathtakingly vivid bruise, individual fingers visually separated, of a huge hand that must have throttled her there. Another, older bruise across her right shoulder, mottling downwards.

There are other marks here and there. Abrasions of the sort that happens when someone eats concrete at full force, perhaps repeatedly. She must have had a shower at some point since their infliction, there's not much dried blood there, but equally, the duel must have aggravated them because there is a little. Other bruises, which can be skin-dated back a week or more and, from their frequency and spread of age, give a sense of how often she's been going through this.

There is also the lesser but no less significant violence done by lack of sleep and lack of food. The shadows on her face. The prominence of her ribs and the tops of her hips. The brittleness of her spine, the too-stark line of her jaw.

A stray kitten found in a box could not be much more pitiful than this.

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

It should be more distressing, but Shizuru's eye remains distant, dispassionate, unconnected. She understands well that particular vulnerability--or avoiding it, at least. She is not so kind as to pretend that she doesn't see it.

She sighs lightly, and it may sound like it's a sigh over the extent of Utena's injuries as Shizuru undresses her, but it is not. It's a sigh over how easily she trusts here.

As bad as these injuries are, Shizuru goes so far as to remove the jacket rather than merely opening it, studying boot imprints and bruises, a throttling wound at her neck. Her hands are stronger than their delicate look implies, her grip gentle enough not to hurt too much more in removing sleeves. Older and more recent, not at all Kasagami's style...

Red eyes take in each, study, consider. The story this body tells her is a colorful one. "Hmm," she comments finally. "You've certainly found more than your share of trouble, Tenjou-kun, well beyond the duel. I'm impressed that you're as mobile as you are."

Brown hair shifts over Utena as Shizuru studies in more dtail before she moves back, and opens the first aid kit to begin caring for the stray she's taken into her house. "This will hurt," she comments, pulling gauze and alcohol to start firmly cleaning dried blood and points where bruises have broken the skin, at abrasions from concrete.

There is no horror at the horrific level of injury here, and there are no gasps of shock. Shizuru has very little open reaction other than thoughtfulness. ...But that also means there's no particular judgement in her gaze or in her tone.

...There is a twinge of... something, however,that Shizuru herself can't identify, that causes her to glance to the side for a moment in thought. "Mm. Regardless, I'm curious. And talking through this process will make it less awkward for you."

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

Utena remains too good, too submissive, too indifferent a patient throughout, allowing her arms to be girlhandled out of her sleeves, not pulling away from the studying or even the stinging. She doesn't complain, or say anything at all, hardly even hissing. At one point tears threaten, but they do not spill forth.

Her nostrils twitch a little at all the alcohol, and it lures her very slightly out of her shell -- having inhaled it she cannot help but also inhale something else, some essence of Shizuru's own closeness, and it causes the long-lashed-lids on her eyes to reopen slowly, almost unaware of their own movement, as they draw the curtains to start the play.

Shizuru continues to slowly sink further into Utena's awareness. The brush of her fingertips -- and her hair, accidentally, when she's bending across her patient. The brilliant redness of her eyes. The thoughtful purse of her lips.

Her bruises are mostly purple, yellow, black -- but true red rosiness slowly, gently blooms across her cheeks, across her miraculously delicate, still-unbroken nose, without her even realizing it.

Gosh, you're so lovely...

Some vaguely intact shard of her heart still capable of appreciating beauty -- though rather than coursing fiercely in her veins it feels only like the most distant touch of a butterfly's wing -- manages to form the thought.

Her traitor lips give tribute to it, barely audible upon the rusty and unused instrument of her voice. It's unclear that she knows that she said that out loud, either. Whether she does or not, it seems indicated that speaking may not make this process less awkward.

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

No tears, even. Shizuru is not so accustomed to treating others that she can comment whether Utena is a good patient; nevertheless, it is not too alien to her to see this indifference, for all that the lack of strangeness itself is unusual. There's something...

Regardless Shizuru does not at first notice Utena opening her eyes, as focused as she is on action, on glancing down at bandages to check what she has. She misses the blush at first. ...But only, of course, at first. Those words, barely audible, nevertheless slide into Shizuru's awareness and cause her to stop where she is, glaning back to Utena's face.

...Now she sees the spot of rose, the delicate look, underneath and amidst all of the injury. She smiles, a light teasing note sparking into her eyes.

"My, Tenjou-kun. What a sweet thing to say."

She gets to medical tape and bandaging, covering over spots that threaten to bleed again, her fingertips warm against cold bruised flesh. "I think I should encourage you to talk more often."

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

Utena feels Shizuru stop, and that pause definitely makes her realize it if she hadn't already. The redness spreads, infecting her neck, her ears. For the first time, she trembles beneath her hostess' touch, swallowing a lump in her throat so hard that it shakes down her entire body.

Shizuru puts her together while she quietly falls apart. After a few seconds, ashamed tears start to leak down her cheeks, and -- carefully, because it's very sore -- she moves her head to one side to stare at the wall. It's not the teasing or even the wry encouragement. She's listening to someone else, something else, something stirring within her more deeply.

Perhaps she's been reminded of someone.

"Sorry," she repeats, after a while. "I don't think... I have nearly enough to say, senpai. Maybe you should talk instead."

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

The life that comes from a simple amount of apparent embarrassment is something new, something Shizuru is at the same time used to trying to tease out of the otherwise stoic. But she has to be a little careful; she doesn't want to overdo it, break something.

...So she maintains that bit of stability as she goes, until she spots the tears, spots Utena look away. Whatever it is that she's listening to, whatever it is that she's doing, Shizuru can't really be sure; her soft features are soter in the quiet electric light, as she considers.

"Hmm," she answers, a little more gently. "That's fine. Almost unfair; I have rather a lot of questions, after all. But since you insist..."

Another bandage down; the stretchy sound of tape slips off the roll and affixes it, Shizuru working a bit at a time as she does. "...You're welcome to ask me questions, if you like. I may even answer. In the meantime... You know, I was telling someone earlier about the importance of using the right temperature of water in tea. People assume that because you've manhandled the leaves so much already that you can do more or less whatever you like, but each part of the process requires a certain amount of gentleness, of finesse. It's the difference between something bitter and confusing and something delicate, precariously given. ...Simple attention to care, and detail, makes quite the difference."

"...I may not be noted for my kindness, but I've spent a lot of time learning to understand tea. It's sometimes more fruitful than trying the same with people."

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

More than anything Utena is breakable. Her only defense is how broken she already is -- it takes extra effort to find large enough shards to grind down into powder. Still, those tears leaking out of her -- she's far from invulnerable in that pit of vulnerability. Every inch of her heart is an open sore, bruises or no.

But she calms as Shizuru tells her about tea. It stings again; she's taken a lot of tea in the last year with someone else; but actually she's also taken an interest in it, become a tiny bit of a tea nerd herself. Her historically favorite afterschool cafe is more of a tea shop than a restaurant, certainly -- Magnolia. Perhaps Shizuru has bothered to know Utena's hangouts and perhaps not.

But yes -- calm. Her breathing, though shallow to avoid her ribs, becomes more even. Her eyes half-lid. The redness recedes, and so do the tears.

Her mind feels sluggish. Everything still hurts, and any temptation she might have to pursue more details about tea is buried beneath endless, deep waves of incuriosity.

That doesn't mean a glimmer of that treasure can't shine beneath the sea, though.

"Thanks..." she says, she sighs. "...senpai."

Her eyes flutter shut again, and she finally sleeps, sleeps deeply and truly and restfully, through the rest of Shizuru's first aid, through the rest of the night, and the day after that.

She sleeps like the dead, but looks more alive than she has in weeks.

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

A part of Shizuru suggests finishing the job, as she works, a little voice that speaks to her mind and is met with silence. She's had opportunities in plenty in this conversation already...

She continues not to do it.

Shizuru feels no need to confess that this conversation recalls one had while watching her Duel. She does not mention that indeed she knows Magnolia and Utena's presence there. She merely works slowly, evenly, talks on about tea in a calm voice with her usual hint of something beyond, not quite amusement.

Senpai. Senpai, despite their obvious competition. Another little piece of the puzzle that is Utena Tenjou, delivered so simply.

Utena falls asleep, and Shizuru continues her work, falling into easy silence until she's done. From there she looks over Utena... and takes a handkerchief to dab away the tear tracks before she pulls the covers over the battered girl in her house, looking more alive now than she did before.

"..." Freed of the need to keep up her mask, Shizuru simply stares at Utena for a long whle before she finally turns out the light and rises, stepping out towards her living area again.

She does not sleep as restfully. The Vice President returns to school in the morning, alone, having left a bottle of water and a bottle of pills for the pain beside Utena's sleeping form, and returns here to this house instead of to her dorm.

Shizuru mentions to no one her new guest, save the driver her brought her here.