2018-01-12 - Yukino's Dissatisfaction! Challenge of the Cream Rose!

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Yukino's Dissatisfaction! Challenge of the Cream Rose!

Yukino challenges Kasagami to a duel for the Rose Bride. In flashbacks, a conversation between her and Shizuru helps prompt this decision.


Kasagami Araki, Anthy Himemiya, Yukino Kikukawa, Shizuru Fujino

GM: Madoka Kaname


Ohtori Academy

OOC - IC Date:

01-12-2018 - 03-19-2015

*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+ Ohtori Academy +*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*+*
  The ivory crown on the brow of Southern Cross Island, Ohtori Academy is
  separated from the world by more than just water. Outside, education can be
  a luxury. Within this white-walled compound, education is /luxurious/.
  Marble colonnades spring up like fountain spouts, scarlet flowers drench
  every free surface. The architecture is at once daringly art deco and
  austerely Classical, white marble lending an angelic weightlessness to
  pillars and fences that can seem more woven than carved.

  At the center of campus is the Chairman's Tower, a dizzyingly tall spire in
  the center of a manicured grassy field. Radiating around this field are the
  lecture halls, dormitories, art buildings, and other facilities by which the
  chosen few receive education, with small class sizes in large buildings.
  It's common for students to refer to a building's location as if the hour
  hand of a great clock extended from the central tower. At twelve o'clock,
  for instance, the Duel Arena looms like a jade stormcloud, a great forest
  forming a living pagoda of leaves that reminds even longtime students that
  their school keeps many secrets.

  The rose is the emblem of Ohtori, and campus is decorated with a profusion
  of them, both living and frozen in frieze. Poppies are favored as well, and
  thick carpets of either flower can be found wherever the loosest excuse is
  available. Only the most bitter of winters seems able to fully erase the
  faint fragrance from the air, and students who leave the island via quick,
  convenient bridge or ferry can often find a memory of it on their clothing.

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

It's a nice, clear day and the weather is pretty tolerable. Just a light wind at Ohtori, perfect with plenty of updraft. And so it is that Kasagami Araki has dragged out one Anthy Himemiya towards one particular sport she can actually compete in!

Sort-of. If you count being the club-carrier competing. The clubs are pretty feathery though. Case in point: a pair of perches are set up on the crux of a high hill, along with a latticed set of chairs and a table. There's tea and sandwhiches set out, as well as plenty of more raw snacks for the birds they're tending to. It's an impromptu club meeting. Therefore it's only Kasagami and her ghost member, Anthy.

The massive golden eagle Beatrix banks beautifully in the air, then falls with a dive worthy of such a beautiful animal. A strip of leather tied to her finger, Kasagami spins the lightly weighted end, and then hucks it into the sky. With a sharp whistle? The bird increases it's dive, and then snags the meat end with enough velocity that Kasagami has to put a booted foot back and brace herself. Weight and speed make for quite the impact even only through leather. She bomps off the dirt on her boots, and then turns to Anthy with a grin.

Her enthusiasm shines, simple and pure. One of the few things Anthy and Kasagami can say they have in common: a love of animals. Kassie's is just slightly more focused to the dangerous ones. Beatrix climbs.

Kasagami spins twice, arms open before addressing Anthy. "That's it! She's getting much better at reacting to commands! Isn't she doing so well, Anthy!? I can't wait to teach her to land on my shoulder!" She laughs aloud.

Then she's pointing at Anthy. "What about you, huh? Are you going to teach your feathery friend to come to you? Come ON Anthy, don't you want a little bit of control in your life? Over such a majestic, graceful creature...isn't it wonderful, knowing you have power over things that are so deadly!?" Cajoles the young woman, before picking up a sandwhich and chomping on the end hungrily. Her hair sways in the wind, her coat following her as one extra-thick gloved hand settles on her own hip!

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

Anthy Himemiya has her long brown legs folded beneath the pleats of her Ohtori Academy skirt, seated upon one of the chairs. Her irises darken under the shadow of long lashes, hiding their green from the smooth spring sky and the golden eagle that wheels and swoops within it. She won't be found on the rolls of the Falconry Club, but she's to be found where Kasagami Araki is, more often than not; so here she is.

It's an impressive display of falconry and aerial power... one that the girl on the chair is ignoring in favor of twisting a trio of long grassy reeds in her lap. It looks like the beginning of a braid.

That enthusiasm and the spin it generates catch Anthy's eye -- she tilts her head, just enough so that she can track the tall young woman's movements. "Oh, yes. She did very well," the Rose Bride offers with utter mildness.

She then cranes her head up to peer at the owl on her nearby perch, a large white bird named Alice. The bird receives a small, sweet smile -- Anthy always has one for the birds, who she generally treats more like adorable chicks than fierce predators. (Chu-Chu, though, is not in attendance today.)

"Araki-sama, you are already so good at giving commands. I think I should leave it to you."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.
<SoundTracker> Death of a Salesman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdJB5OFN3u8

She finishes another paper.

Read. Revise. Sign. Stamp.



There's only one person on Ohtori's Student Council who can honestly say they do more paperwork than Miki Kaoru and Shizuru Fujino, who are otherwise considered the masters of bureaucracy in the middle and high schools respectively. But they are outclassed by another, Miki because he's younger and Shizuru because she has more important things to do.

There's nothing more important to her, though.


Almost nothing.


Her eyes mist over as she thinks of the upcoming graduation.


A fluttering white armband.


Blond hair bouncing as she walks away.


"Leave with me? No! You can't waste your youth! Don't you dare waste it!"


"I'll never forgive you if you do!"



There are a lot of extra Kassies at the falconry club today.

Pale imitations, anyway. Their coats are too tapered and their hair fails to match her perfection, their skin is too clear and their voices are too high -- or too low, in the case of the admiring, longshanked lads who have arrayed themselves on the lawn as well.

But they try. They try hard, and loudly, and passionately. (At least they can get that part right.)

"Hark, the bird!" "What ho!" "Eeeee, I caught it!" "Heeeeere chick, chook-chook-chook-chook!"

There are varying levels of success, as they drill with their birds, which range from chickens to doves to -- is that a plastic birdie? Are some of them playing badminton? None of them command anything dangerous, certainly, except possibly their own enthusiasm.

That, and the occasional dark look at Anthy Himemiya, who occupies their beloved's attention so completely.

But the sea of Kasagami-admirers, -emulators and -crushers parts before the coming of someone in an entirely ordinary Ohtori High School uniform. The ONLY member of the council whose uniform is ordinary, in fact. Nobody's ever asked her why she hasn't bothered to assume that privilege of rank. It would have served her now; they didn't start getting out of her way until she cleared her throat a few times.

And she does so again as she nears the top of the hill, and the King and Bride above the rest, an apologetic chuff of a verbal interruption. Her skin is white beneath her freckles. She is trembling a bit, nervous.

She swallows, a glottal sound. "Um," says Yukino Kikukawa, Ohtori High School Secretary. "Pardon me... sorry to interrupt..."

Her arms are full of papers. The playful breeze threatens to scatter them, and she tightens them against her chest.

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

Kasagami tsk's, not for the first time, in dissappointment at the answer. One she could almost see coming, but her constant cajolings for Anthy to show some outward, honest bit of self-motivation has yet to work.

And so, eyeing the braid briefly, she she sighs. "You should be more like them." A hand motions, gallantly, to the ones that are trying to emulate or crush on her. Either way, her good eye turns to look at them all. Admire them, slightly from afar. Not out of any kind of malice. No, when she turns to the ones that are honestly giving it their all and have real enthusiasm? She beams.

"I mean, you should be better, as that's where you should be. It's your station, your calling. I swear, it really does annoy me Anthy that you never try anything unexpected for your own benefit. The mysterious girl of Ohtori! Or the air headed little nerd, if you ask some members of our esteemed student body. Either way, would it really kill you to show some pride in yourself and a bit of fire in your heart? Trust me. It feels good to command. Who knows, you might get addicted to it after you give it a shot. You're not stupid." The last bit is low, almost an accusation.

And then she moves to let Beatrix fly, and to direct some of the others. "You there! Don't be scared, it's just plastic! The soft kind, not even the sharp cheap stuff that hurts when it hits you in the face. Trust your bird, and aim right! More to the left!"

Point point! "Don't be rough, that one is just learning to fly! And it is probably more expensive than your life insurance payout!"

"Swing in to the shuttlecock!"

Her litany of unasked for advice pauses as the sea parts to reveal one Yukino Kikukawa. It's not like Kasagami doesn't recognize her face, but actually wearing the normal uniform always makes her blink twice. And the brief little frown, a twitch of annoyance at how the girl on the Council doesn't conform to it's dress. Even for her, so different than many members, it grates that Yukino doesn't seem to act as what she sees any Council Member should act.

Still, she walks over and offers a sharp grin. Beatrix chooses this time to come in for a landing, and Kasagami's hand is held out casually. With a whisper of a land, her arm bobs only lightly as she catches the hefty bird.

"Yukino-san! What a surprise. Oh come now, you're not interrupting, the Falconry Club loves observers! Have you finally fallen in love with our fine feathery friends?" It's not quite mocking, but it's close. Kasagami seriously doubts the girl is here for birds, given what she's seen of the girl.

Seemingly meek, but Kasagami's eye is only for Yukino. Being wary of your fellow Student Council is only common sense. "What can I do for you? Careful, don't lose the Student Council's business to the wind. Need my coat?"

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

She feels the looks, of course. Anthy always does, every single one, every single day. Her Engaged has inspired quite the following, and a constant burr-like presence has earned the Rose Bride her own dark echo of that. It's clear she doesn't fit, and Kasagami has herself made it clear she has no particular affection for Anthy.

Yet she constantly walks along beside (and behind) the swordswoman. She eats with Kasagami. Anthy goes home with her, every day...

The glares flay her, and she sits plaiting three blades of grass like a grade school girl at recess. But Anthy feels them.

As it sometimes does, Anthy's acquiescent demurral earns her an upbraiding from Kasagami. She endures it with her neck and her eyes bent to the task of her fingers... but eventually her fingers slow and stop, and then she is just listening with lowered head. Nothing about the girl's bearing changes, but she seems smaller in the chair, somehow.

"Of course, Araki-sama," Anthy finally says, and turns a big blank smile up at the taller girl, her eyes closed against the bright sky. When Kasagami's attention turns to the rest of the club, she goes right back to her braiding.

"Hello, Kikukawa-san," she offers; otherwise, Yukino's approach excites no great change from Anthy, but that is not so unusual. Club members, for instance, come up all the time and the girl will be in her own little world. Then -- as now -- she pays close attention, despite all visible signs to the contrary.

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


Knock, knock.

Gentle rapping from elegant fingers announces the presence of the Vice President, another so often here in this room. ...She does not need to knock. She does regardless, watching Yukino Kikukawa at the desk, watching her stamping yet more paperwork that, very soon, is not Shizuru Fujino's problem to get done. ...Not that these are to begin with; she never has had to do all of it, after all, certainly not her time here.

...How long has she been watching? That is not an answer Yukino's likely to get, as Shizuru steps inside, smoothly, in her Student Council uniform, white jacket and all. It is not ordinary, though it is subtle. Little about this young woman is, as always; her red eyes sparkle with something like the amusement she always seems to show, and the ring on her left hand sparkles with an altogether more mundane light, the ugly brilliance of beautiful things. She is a scion of Ohtori, after all, though the Rose Crest is no longer on her finger.

And she comes to a stop not so far from Yukino, looking down at her with a placid, pleasant look. ...But looking down at her, certainly.

"Hello, Kikukawa-san," Shizuru says, and at this point it might become more obvious that Shizuru closed the door behind her.

...Less obvious that she locked it.

"It's always good to see your dedication."

But she's not here for compliments. That much is clear.


<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yukino looks up at Shizuru, shoulders askew with startlement. Her eyes are sharp, but unseeing -- she has to adjust her spectacles before she can identify the older girl right in front of her nose.

Then everything comes into focus.

"Vice President," she murmurs, humbly, respectfully. She really looked up to Shizuru -- not quite like someone else she knows, a different kind of respect, less fiery and more... solid -- but a certain announcement, now most of a year ago, somewhat irreparably fractured that admiration.

Which isn't to say that there's nothing left. But things are different now. Where once she might have rushed upright, scattering papers left and right in her haste to serve her idol some tea, now she simply straightens her tie with an ink-stained hand and rises in the presence of a senpai, an elder.

Even with them both on their feet, Shizuru still gets to look down at her, and Yukino still has to look up.

"How can I help you?"

There's a helpfulness there too genuine to be faked, but it's tinged with an even-more-present curiosity that goes well beyond a desire to be useful. Shizuru doesn't bother looking at her very often, not for any duration.

Even so -- even so... routine dies hard. She trudges over to the kettle out of habit instead of obligation. Midpour she looks down at her own hands as though wondering at this muscle memory, only then realizing what she's doing.

Well, there's no use in wasting poured tea. She closes the distance between them and offers the ceramic cylinder, its contents steaming, and if her smile is more wry than subservient, it's hard to tell behind those gleaming glasses.


Anthy may largely ignore Kasagami's orders, but the students of Ohtori otherwise snap to. They swallow their fear and they trust their birds and they aim right and left. They are gentle with valuable things. They swing in to the shuttlecock.

Some improve at their aims -- at falconry, at badminton, at being more like Kasagami Araki or even just at attracting her attention. Some don't.

Yukino is accustomed to loud autocrats, could even be said to have a soft spot for them, and her course doesn't veer away even when she's walking through a complex maelstrom of choreography. She just navigates, sometimes mincing around, sometimes ducking straight through, until she is at Kasagami's side, and, by definition, at Anthy's.

She keeps her papers firmly in hand. It isn't time for summer uniforms yet, and her blouse and vest are quite enough to keep her warm; if anything, there's a faint sheen of sweat at her temples, despite her pale pallor. Or maybe because of it.

"Araki-kun," she responds, and seems surprised by the steadiness of her own voice.

Her eyes drift up above her spectacles to peer at Kasagami -- then down, through them, to study the braiding girl. Finally she seems to settle in the middle distance, a safe place to look that requires her to meet no one's eyes without denying them the sense of eye contact that they do, or do not, desire, depending on whether their hair is black or purple.

"Hello, Himemiya-san," she replies with her usual, vaguely friendly, maybe slightly patronizing attitude. Someone who cares as much about organizational structure as she feels a certain default care for those younger than her, even if it's half obligation. Still, she's never tried to get close, or been all that interested in unraveling Anthy's many mysteries.

There's a moment of awkward silence. Shy little Yukino Kikukawa. It's unusual for her to be the one to take the initiative, and yet here she is, so it's her turn to move things forward. Naturally, she hesitates.

"I--" She pauses to moisten her lips. "Well, you see, um..."

Her knuckles whiten against the pages, and she huffs out a breath.

"You've got quite an operation going here," she concludes lamely, a little deflated by her own answer. "And quite a following... at the rate things are going, they're going to make those coats an official part of the uniform."

She smiles, very slightly, but the meaning behind her smile is again difficult to read fully.

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

As if the distaste needs any more reinforcing, Kasagami rolls her eyes while facing Yukino, not Anthy. Her free hand waves dismissively, as if saying 'can you believe this girl?'. Before she smirks and offers the young woman a few words.

"One day, Anthy. One day, I'm going to see you do something so surprising, that you're going to make me laugh. Even if it's while I'm on the ground with my face in the dirt, I'd LOVE to see you do something really, really interesting, all on your own."

She's long ago stopped trying to get the girl to call her Kasagami, or even Kasagami-san. Snap snap.

"Get our beautiful visitor some tea, hmm, Anthy? Make yourself useful to your liege!"

The awkward silence, that sheen of sweat, how the girl holds her papers to herself. It speaks of cowardice at a glance, but the fact that a shy girl is here before her has Kasagami feeling indulgent. And so, she marshals her patience. She transfers the bird on her hand to her shoulder, and lets the weight settle. Claws grip, but between coat and uniform, there's enough padding that all she gets is a rough squeeze of talons onto leather-like flesh.

The only indication of discomfort is a slight lowering of her brow. Her attention is utterly on Yukino, and all the chaos of a good Club Meeting dims. This girl, shy or not, seems to have something to say.

Kasagami laughs. Arms are held out away from her, elbows flicking her coat overdramatically. "And so it should be! They're very warm, I promise! And not only do they make you look dashing, but a good coat keeps things like papers from flying away at the merest little whisper of wind!" Offers Kasagami, only for her to stoop a bit to be eye-to-eye with Yukino. Her gaze is intense and most of all, curious.

"I'm merely ensuring a club of ours that has a storied history rises to greater heights! Just ask Beatrix here. She caught a lovely updraft earlier!" Pause. "...But really, why are you here? With how hard those hands of yours are clenching, I would almost think you're nervous. Don't be. Tell me what's on your mind, right to my face. I love seeing people with ambition and purpose. That's what makes people interesting after all!" Her words to Yukino are goading, and yet, just a bit honest.

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

The dutiful patronization of an upperclassman is a mild sort of smothering, in the world of Anthy Himemiya, and she bears it with her usual placidity. The green plait reaches a handlength, grass shining and unbroken by the stitching of gentle fingertips, before she lays it on the arm of her chair.

"I hope you are right, Araki-sama. Wouldn't that be nice?"

She unfolds her legs and bobs up, obedient to this last command, at least. China chimes a promise of tea from a nearby table, once, then again. She returns with each hand occupied by a cup and saucer, a pale herbal brew brimming them.

"Here you go, Kikukawa-san, Araki-sama," as she offers each their tea in turn. "Please enjoy, it is fresh." Rather than returning to her seat, she strolls over to the owl's perch nearby. Her back is to them, and her eyes are on the greater Ohtori rose gardens, but her ears are on the conversation behind her.

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

Shizuru's willing to wait for Yukino to see her; as a matter of fact, she regards it with the same placid pleasantness that she's already displayed, patient as always. ...The humble, respectful greeting gets a proper nod from Shizuru, of course. She recalls the interactions she's had with her... As relatively few as they would seem to others. Rarely does she have much to say to her, after all.

There's an amused look as Yukino straightens her tie, rises, asks her question. ...The curiousity strides her of course. ...Shizuru declines to answer at first, watching Yukino pouring the tea, offering it to her. In both hands, Shizuru accepts the cup, taking a moment to appreciate the aroma. ...She does savor her tea.

"By allowing me to help you," the Vice President finally answers, hands on her teacup, head tilting. "...Dutiful as always. It's one of your better qualities, certainly... But not, I think, the only one relevant here."

Shizuru turns slightly, walks partway away from Yukino... And then sits on her desk, crossing her knees and regarding the girl. "In some ways, you remind me of myself. ...And in one of them, I think, is our shared distaste... for Kasagami Araki." Shizuru waits a beat, takes a sip of her tea, smiles at the flavor. "Mm," she announces, then continues. She does not have to keep talking to dominate a conversation.

"...In another is your habit of remaining passive for far too long. You have an opportunity. ...An important possibility. One that I had some difficulty with myself, admittedly. But you can learn from it."

Shizuru dips her head, eyeing Yukino carefully. "...You are a Duelist, as surely as any of us. And that means you hold a power that is well beyond the meek facade you show. I see it. I have seen it. All you need is to stop holding back."

"...The thing to remember about Araki-kun is that she overextends. She's a bull, charging onward. If you understand where she's charging... Then you can strike. But leave anything behind, and she will escape your grip, and turn on you. That was my mistake."

"So the key is to strike at the right time. And if you happened to strike her down from her new pedestal, why... I can't imagine that you would be the only one to benefit. I think it's a good time to think of... old friends, hm?" She smiles over her tea, and takes a sip. "There are many rewards for knowing when to act."

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yukino takes her own tea, and when Shizuru steals the desk, she simply leans against the counter, propping herself on one hip. She doesn't sip until her senpai does, but then drinks deeply, like a person at the end of a long desert journey.

And she listens. She's always listening. Some Ohtori girls get loud to get their way, but she's always gotten quiet. She listens and, increasingly, she stares. That part is less typical, but then, so is Shizuru's uncharacteristic frankness. She may be smiling but she isn't silent or making puns or platitudes.

This is, in fact, the most that they've ever directly discussed their shared extracurricular before. And the secretary hasn't even actually said anything yet. Her eyes are round behind her glasses as her senpai offers her tacit support -- and unsolicited advice.

She pales at 'you've seen it,' then shakes her head as though clearing her mind. That can't be true. She would know, because nobody sees more at Ohtori Academy than Yukino herself. Well, it's Diana doing the seeing, really. Yukino is just the messenger.

And she's seen the duels -- one of only four people who observed all of them, because she didn't participate in any of them (joined in this tier by Touga, Anthy, and, barring the finale once the bracket was settled, Utena herself). She took notes.

"That's not why you lost." She blurts it out, nervously, then swallows not to suppress her own uncharacteristic frankness, perhaps brought out by proximity to same, but to find a foundation to support it. "But..."

She licks her lips, clears her throat, and her thought is totally arrested by the mention of old friends. The blonde hair, the white armband, the anger, the laughter, they all hang in her mind's eye.

'I'll never forgive you if you do!'

Her eyes close, and she's quiet for a long time.

"It isn't right," she voices, finally, without so much as a tremble in her treble. "I hate all of it. Everything that's happened. I can't just let her time end here without... doing something about it. And... it's running out..."


Yukino is unaccustomed to being served tea. If she'd really processed Kasagami's initial order she might have demured the necessity; now that she's being presented with it, she accidentally knocks hands with Anthy, reaching out a little too quickly to relieve her of her burden, off-balance herself since now she's keeping all those papers from blowing away with just one hand, one arm. "Sorry," she gasps, but the hot liquid has slopped over onto her own fingers, not the Rose Bride's. Shaking her head, she -- without waiting -- sips.

As the tea soothes her throat, and the brief flash of pain on the back of her hand fades, it occurs to her for the first time that tea tastes better when someone else makes it for you.

She could get used to that. But, even so, there's someone else she'd rather be making tea for, than taking tea from anyone.

Once her cup is empty, she returns it to Anthy's custody. And her hand she returns to her papers... but not to support them. Instead she takes something out from behind them.

Her shoulders straighten. Her chin lifts.

The rose signet on her hand gleams.

And, rose in hand -- cream-colored, off-white, the color of offices and of the richest of all liquids, nourishing yet also luxurious -- she stretches it out towards the One Engaged.

"If that's what you're looking for, then meet me in the arena after school tomorrow," she challenges, looking Kasagami dead in the eye, and if her voice lacks volume, it certainly doesn't lack conviction. It's the most intense string of words she's ever uttered to anyone, much less the latest Disciplinary Executive.

By the end of the sentence, the whiteness has been replaced by a flush, not of humiliation but of excitement. The nerves aren't gone, but Shizuru, it turns out, isn't wrong; there is something to finally taking action.

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

A deep sigh. God help her. Kasagami holds in her more annoyed reproaches out in public. She has that much propriety.

Later. "Nice indeed." Pause. Siiip. A short nod. "Anthy knows her tea." It's openly begrudging, but Kasagami can respect Anthy's skill with tea leaves, amongst other sorts of leaves. Maybe many others that she doesn't yet know of.

A flower is offered to her hands, and Kasagami takes the rose. She eyes the signet on Yukino's finger, and then she offers an almost gentle laugh. The off colored rose earns a squint, and then she presses it to her chest, only into the little strip that clips on a rose to a Duelist.

Kasagami Araki lets out a chuckle that isn't mocking, but rather, warm. As Yukino's cheek flushes, her hands fall to her hips.

"Yukino-san! I accept! Now that's what I call bravery! Let us have a proper night out!" Offers Kasagami before turning away as the girl flushes. If anything, Kasagami only seems more eager.

"Give me your best!" She calls out to the secretarial woman!

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

They are not the movements of ritual or ceremony, nor is it like a dance, but Anthy evinces an elegant surety of motion as she serves the tea. A too-quick knocking of knuckles disrupts that and brings the roundness of surprise to Anthy's face; her eyes hurry to Kasagami, then away.

She is quick to counter Yukino with her own offer of blame. "Oh, I am too clumsy, Kikukawa-san." A prepared hostess, she proffers a folded white napkin to Yukino for her splashed fingers before she walks away. Kasagami's praise for her brewing skills follows; she absorbs it in quiet.

Attendant and attentive, Anthy tilts her head to catch the offer of the cup back. She accepts it with dipped chin and whisks it away to the tea stand, then returns to stand by the left elbow of her Engaged as Yukino extends her hand, hands clasped before her.

The curl of cream petals draws her gaze; the line of her mouth draws a curl of its own. Anthy is a strange girl, with a strange fondness for roses... It's a fleeting thing.

The Rose Bride stands witness to the challenge, her skirt ruffling lightly in a spring breeze, following the flower as Kasagami pulls it to her chest. The same zephyr gives a playful puff and knocks the grass braid from the arm of her chair, to be lost amongst the green blades beneath.

<Pose Tracker> Madoka Kaname [Ohtori Academy (9)] has posed.

Yukino has no more eyes for Anthy, be she polite or humble or even simply pleased to see a rose. Kasagami has her full attention now, and where the One Engaged turns away, the newest challenger steps forward, not letting her so easily withdraw.

She doesn't even notice as the wind picks up and ruffles the papers in her arms, until the top sheet snaps away.

"My best isn't for you," she whispers, but it has a larger presence than ten thousand shouts. "But you'll be in its presence all the same."

Another page, then another, and then the air is full of paper. There are more of them than birds, than shouts.

Yukino gazes upwards, the wind lifting her short hairdo to spread around her like a halo, and watches the papers that had weighed her down dance freely now, with bemused eyes.

"See you tomorrow then," she agrees, and walks back through the crowd of coat-wearing students. Her unmodified uniform has never stood out more.

And the paper is tossed higher and higher by the capricious breezes, before it is finally lost to sight, drowned in the endless blue heavens...