Juri Arisugawa: tall, stoic, beautiful, and the begrudging token of Shiori Takatsuki's attention as of late. Barely subtle as she watched the taller girl shake her hair free of its sweat, taking a gander at long legs which followed one after the other on the way to the shower. The purple haired girl quickly turned back, removing her own mask with a huff.
"Is everything alright?" the slightly out of breath voice calls out from next to her, a lad of the same age who would later be so forgettable she'd barely even remember he existed within the next month.
"You tend to do that a lot." He says.
Shiori can't help but frown a bit.
"What're you on about, Ruka?"
He chuckles, sitting on one of the many boxes stowed away at this corner of the gym for whatever reason. He pats the free space next to him and she takes up on his offer, hugging her knees to her chest, mask still in hand.
"I mean, you'll take long gazes at her and you'll turn away. Almost as if you're embarrassed! Or...maybe it's something more?"
She stares at the floor for a moment or two and he only stays silent; not one to pry or push for answers, just to help get them out. After what feels like an eternity, she speaks again.
"What do you think..of Juri, I mean." She speaks lowly, resting her chin on her knees. She almost looked like a child who'd been scolded.
"As...as a man."
What a peculiar thing to ask; Of course he was confused, who wouldn't be.
"I'm not. Entirely sure what you're asking...or why it matters."
She resists the urge to sigh. "Come now, I said how do you feel about her as a man. As a man does a woman."
He blinks; Once. Slower the second time, a hand to his chin.
"Ah. Well." He stares out of the nearest window. "...In all honesty, she's the most beautiful, splendid woman I've ever had the pleasure of knowing."
With that, she took off her fencing mask and slammed it to the ground before running towards the exit. He jumped, clutching his own mask but watching her once the shock wore off. Following her would've been fruitless; he knew that.
A roll of the eyes.
A knock at the dorm door shook Juri from her thoughts. Cheeks a tad flushed, she tucked her locket back into her undershirt, slowly rose from her bed and answered, not wanting to come off too eager at what she saw.
"...Shiori." She probably sounded more stern then she wanted, but it was better than letting out that whimper she was holding in her throat.
"Look at me." The smaller girl huffed, cheeks equally as flushed. Tears just barely starting to form at the corner of her eyes, and Juri's emotional gumbo of anxiety and excitement become that of concern.
"Shiori...Shiori are you alri-"
"Shut up goddammit and look at me! Look!" She doesn't hesitate to grab Juri's face, their noses but a few centimeters apart. "What do you think of me? Am I good enough?"
Juri blinks. "Good enough?"
"What do you think of me, Juri."
"What...do I think?"
Shiori huffs, slowly gritting her teeth as the tears finally fall. She contemplates shoving the taller girl back or causing her some form of bodily harm but instead releases her. Those stupidly soft cheeks and that stupidly concerned look in Juri's eyes almost make her reconsider her options.
"Am I not good enough?" She's rubbing her eyes, making sure to do it facing downwards as if it'd hinder Juri of her true feelings; as if the tears weren't dripping onto the ground tihe mnute she grabbed her face. The last thing she wants is to be seen as weak, especially in front of her.
"Why...Why is it always you? Always beautiful, flawless, stunning Juri!"
If Juri wasn't confused before she definitely was now. She almost wants to reach out and comfort the other, but she knows better; Shiori was never fond of being coddled.
"They always want you, because you're just so ideal, Juri. They adore you and what do I get? Nothing. I get to stay in your shadow alone and you probably love it, you love looking down on me just like you did back then."
"Shiori, calm down. I truly have no idea what you're on about." Juri says.
Shiori sniffs, wiping her eyes once more.
"I'm talking about Ruka, you idiot. You stupid girl. He's in love with you, just like that stupid boy in middle school and everyone else in the whole fucking world probably."
It was truly a pitiful sight, her best friend, her first love sniffling and babbling on about some boys who wouldn't give her the time of day; one of which was so forgettable Shiori couldn't remember his name....and come to think of it, Juri couldn't either.
"I....I'm sorry." Is all Juri can say; What else does one say? "I never liked either of them!" Shiori would probably think she was rubbing it in her face.
"I have boys falling over me all the time, but I don't give a shit about any of them!" What a joke.
"Yeah, sure you are." Shiori says.
A short pause.
"I hate you, you know." Shiori sniffles, a bittersweet smile on her face. It stings, but only a tad;
Juri had come to terms with this long ago. One should expect nothing more when neglecting a dear friend, letting what could've been wiggle right out of her hands due to her own fragile ego and cowardice.
"...Then why did you come here?" Juri asks.
Shiori stays silent, and every bone in Juri's body was telling her to hold the other girl, to kiss her, fucking. Anything. Anything but this. The girl she'd been in love with for 3 years was sitting before her and all she could do was stand there like the romantically inept idiot she was.
Foolish, foolish girl.
"Because." Shiori spoke up, throat a tad dry. "...Because. I'm." She huffed, gripping her forearms with her hands. "Because I've lost. Because maybe, maybe deep down I know I'm just as pathetic and disgusting as you." She sniffs.
"Because I thought, if men don't love me...if men don't need me, then what am I? Some try hard loser who still couldn't best you in the end, so I thought. I thought I'd get to your level." She looks up at her friend.
"That's why I want to know....since you're just pathetic enough to sit in here like a creep, daydreaming about me or whatever. I want to know how you think of me, because in the end, at least I still have that going for me. As painful as it is to admit....at least...at least I still have you, Juri."
Juri wasn't exactly sure what to make of this development. A backhanded compliment? A confession? She'd probably never know. Nevertheless she sighed, finally stepping aside to let the girl in, saving both of them further embarrassment after a huge episode in a dorm hallway and gently shutting it behind her. Shiori sniffed, slowly walking over to the bed and taking a seat, Juri right behind her.
"You want to know what I think of you? In all honesty?" Juri sits next to the other, seeing her nod slowly.
Shiori had no doubt Juri probably hated her, maybe moreso in this very moment, but it was still worth a shot.
"Shiori." Juri turned a tad, looking the other in the eye. "I think.." A deep breath; she was probably risking any chance of ever speaking to Shiori again, but she didn't care. If it was going to end like this, at least it'd've been worth it.
"I think....you're the most beautiful, perfect girl....you're. You're cruel, and you've hurt me. You've really...really hurt me, but I love you. I've loved you and I'll never stop, even if space and time itself collapses, the feelings I have for you couldn't change, even if I wanted them to." She didn't realize she hadn't been breathing. Taking a big, slow breath and turning away once more, rubbing the back of her hand with her fingers in what was clearly a way of coping with anxiety.
"...More." Shiori says, after what felt like forever. She hesitated, but moved a tad closer to Juri. "Keep going...what else do you like. H..how else do you feel, Juri?"
Juri was a tad shocked her friend hadn't given her some smug smirk of satisfaction, let alone moved closer, but continued nonetheless.
"Well...what isn't to like... You have the most lovely eyes I've ever seen. You're a bit of an idiot, but that's ok...I'm not one to talk."
Shiori was even closer now, taking one of the hands Juri was rubbing and gently laying her own on top of it. Juri hesitated, but allowed her middle and index fingers to intertwine with Shiori's own.
"Keep going." She insisted.
A faint pink tint played upon Juri's cheeks.
"You know I've never been the best with compliments."
"I'd be an idiot not to know...Well, an even bigger one I suppose."
Juri chuckled, leaning her neck slightly to rest her head on Shiori's own.
"You're no better, you know." Shiori says.
"I do." Juri replies.
"You hurt me too." Shiori rubs her eye with her free hand. "You abandoned me."
"..You think you're better than me."
"Quite the opposite."
"Then why did you do it?" Shiori asks.
"I was..afraid. For a lot of reasons. Mostly because I didn't want to lose you...I didn't want to ruin what we had."
"But you did, Juri. You did ruin it."
"And I made it worse."
Quiet; nearly silent if not for the faint giggles of fellow classmen in the halls and the occassional 'ding!' of the elevator a couple doors down.
The aforementioned girl turns her head, cut off with a kiss before she can even respond. It's not perfect; she's clumsily reaching for Shiori's hips so she doesn't send them falling over, and Shiori put on a little too much chapstick this morning for her liking but it doesn't matter; this imperfect moment somehow feels just right.
10 seconds pass. 15. 20. Finally the kiss is broken and Juri has to resist whimpering once more, like some kind of touch starved 16 year old.
"I don't." Shiori speaks up once more, pausing; She wraps her arms around Juri's neck for what could be described as a hug, and Juri wraps her own around Shiori's waist for what could be the same.
"I don't want to win anymore...I don't. Want to hurt you if there's nothing to gain." She nuzzles Juri's neck slightly, unintentionally taking in her scent with every small inhale.
Juri can only sigh.
"There never was, Shiori." She raises a hand from the girls' waist, rubbing her lower back slowly.
"There never was."