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The Prince's Quest

Chapter Text

Utena wakes up. She’s riding a horse, which is rather disconcerting since she doesn’t know how to do that, but this horse is apparently telepathic and stops when she wants it to.

*

The people in the nearby town call her “your highness” and “Prince Utena”. They also ask if she’s come to rescue the princess from the Tower of the Red Dragon. She sort of hopes it’s going to be Anthy, but she feels she can’t leave princesses being menaced by dragons regardless. She goes.

*

There’s a flash of red in the sky as she approaches the tower but no dragon to be seen as she walks though halls of treasure. The princess, waiting for her on the roof of the tower, turns out to be Saionji, wearing a frilly green and white dress and a sour expression. There are three parallel scratch marks running across his upper arm and his dress is scorched, but he doesn’t look pleased to see her.

‘Oh,’ Utena says. ‘Hi, Saionji.’

‘Hello, Miss Tenjou,’ he says, crossing his arms. ‘What are you doing?’

‘Rescuing you.’

‘No.’

‘Why not? I mean, the dragon’s not here to stop you, so I guess you don’t exactly need rescuing.’ Utena rubs the back of her head and looks around, out over the dragonless landscape. ‘But you could at least come with me instead of being imprisoned here.’

‘I’m not imprisoned and I don’t want to be rescued by an ugly tomboy like you.’

‘Look, I know you don’t like me, but stop arguing and come with me before it comes back.’ She tries to grab his arm, although there’s no way she could drag him anywhere, and he shoves her away hard enough to knock her into the treasure scattered about the roof. When she stands he’s pulled a sword from somewhere.

‘I said I’m not coming.’

Utena draws her own sword, not sure whether she intends to force him or to defend herself — she remembers how quick he can be to attack very well.

A flash of red and a scaly body is hurtling itself onto the rooftop between them. The creature is only about as tall as a horse and twice as long, but there’s smoke curling from its nostrils. Its claws are like sickles and the spines running down its back are like daggers. Even its wings have hooked claws at the tips that look like they could rip her in half. She strikes at its neck only for Saionji to throw himself in front of the blow. She manages to arrest the motion, feeling the jolt all down her arm as she forces the sword to stop in midair, but suddenly he’s lying between the dragon’s claws with blood welling from his chest.

‘You idiot,’ the dragon snaps, bending down to him. ‘I’m the one with scales!’

Utena stares. ‘Touga?!

The dragon closes its eyes for a moment and then looks up at her from where it’s almost nuzzling Saionji. ‘Miss Tenjou. Please, do something about this? I can’t even touch him without making it worse.’ He holds up a claw, too sharp to touch something he doesn’t mean to hurt.

‘Of course.’ Utena hurries over to start tearing strips off Saionji’s petticoats to bandage him and tries to ignore how surreal the entire idea of that is. ‘I’m so sorry,’ she says. ‘I should have listened when you said you didn’t want to be rescued… but if I’d known it was Touga! Why didn’t you say?’

‘I told him not to,’ Touga says. ‘This isn’t exactly how I’d like you to see me, Miss Tenjou.’

‘Oh. I won’t hold being a dragon against you. I mean, Nanami was a cow once. And Saionji was Chu-Chu.’

‘Do you have to bring that up?’ Saionji growls. He sits up and finishes the bandaging himself, still leaning heavily on Touga’s front legs.

Touga sighs, carefully away from Saionji, and says, ‘So, what are you planning to do now, my prince?’

‘I was mostly looking for Anthy,’ says Utena. ‘Do you want to come?’

*

‘Do you know how to ride a horse?’ Utena asks.

Saionji shakes his head. ‘I’ve been on one before, with Touga, but I don’t know how to ride.’

‘Really? When I tried that he dropped me,’ says Utena.

Saionji looks up at Touga. ‘Really?’

Touga looks away. ‘You weren’t holding on tightly enough, Miss Tenjou.’

‘Of course not. I’m not going to cling to someone who comes out of nowhere and insists I ride a horse with him.’

‘Can you ride a horse?’ Saionji asks.

‘I can ride this one. I think it’s magic.’

‘Then I guess I’m not likely to fall off.’

*

Utena has camping supplies and Saionji knows how to use them. Touga lights the fire and then disappears into the wood to search for his own dinner.

When they sleep that night he manages to curl himself into an almost perfect circle around Saionji, neck and tail overlapping, claws tucked underneath him. Saionji rests his head on blankets draped over Touga’s shoulder, looking remarkably comfortable.

It makes her miss Anthy.

Chapter Text

There is a knightly tournament going on in the next town for the hand of a princess.

‘It could be Anthy,’ says Utena. ‘I mean, that’s what the duels were.’

‘Are you going to fight for her, then?’ Touga asks.

Utena rubs a hand across her face. ‘I don’t… no, not that, I want to see her not own her. But I do need to go into the town.’

‘Sadly, I don’t think I can accompany you into a town overflowing with knights,’ Touga says.

*

Saionji does come with her.

You’re not going to try to win Anthy are you?’ Utena asks him.

‘Never again,’ Saionji tells her. ‘I just want better clothes. I keep catching this stupid dress on Touga’s scales.’

The skirt is looking rather ragged. This doesn’t stop a number of knights dropping to their knees and trying to swear some kind of fealty to Saionji as he and Utena pass.

‘This is so stupid,’ he says, as they duck into an alley. ‘Shouldn’t they be doing that to you?’

‘I guess it’s more romantic to swear to a princess?’ Utena says.

He huffs. ‘I never realised how annoying knights are. I’m not going anywhere near this tournament, whoever they’re fighting over can have them.’

‘You can go shopping while I check it out. Maybe they won’t realise you’re a princess once you’re not wearing a dress?’

‘I’m not really a princess,’ Saionji mutters.

*

There is an arena, not one like the arena, but one more like a football stadium complete with crowd. Utena starts to push through and immediately finds people deferring to her. Once she reaches the front she can see up into the box at the end, where princess is ensconced. It’s not Anthy. It’s Shiori. Utena’s pretty sure that means one of the knights about to duel will be Juri.

She’s looking for an orange rose emblazoned on a shield, and starting to have suspicions about the knight with black armour and a plain black shield who has so far been winning, when Saionji pushes through the crowd and arrives next to her.

‘Have you been here this whole time? This is taking forever,’ he says. He’s looking much more comfortable in light leather armour with his hair pulled back in a ponytail, even if he’s complaining. ‘That’s not Anthy,’ he adds.

‘No, it’s Shiori,’ Utena says. When he still looks blank she adds, ‘She’s Juri’s friend.’

Saionji looks down at the knights and says, ‘Is that why Juri’s fighting?’

‘It is Juri, then?’ Utena says.

‘Of course,’ Saionji says. ‘Are you going to bring her with us too?’

‘I don’t know,’ says Utena. ‘They can both come if they want to.’

*

Saionji finds the tournament more interesting than Utena does and doesn’t make it more interesting for her by trying to explain both what the knights are doing and why kendo is objectively better. Personally, Utena prefers team sports, although she does like pro-wrestling.

Finally Juri’s only got one knight left to defeat and is about to knock him down too. Then Shiori raises her hand to her lips and it looks like she’s blowing a kiss until Juri claps a hand to her throat, just showing at the join of her armour, and stumbles to her knees. The other knight quickly knocks her over and Juri makes no move to get up as he walks over to Shiori’s box.

‘Juri!’ Utena calls. She swings herself over the wall of the stadium and drops without thinking, running over to pull off Juri’s helmet. Red hair cascades over her hands and she can see the dart in Juri’s throat like a bee-sting, but she’s breathing fine. Utena looks up to the box and sees Shiori on the winning knight’s arm, smirking down at the felled Juri.

*

It’s a little later, after Juri has been tended to by her page and whoever usually tends knights in these situations, that Utena manages to talk to her. Saionji has followed and the three of them sit in a room filled with armour. It looks like a sort of locker room for knights, although without the lockers.

‘So, you’re a prince,’ Juri says.

‘And you’re a knight,’ Utena says, stretching nervously. ‘And fighting for Shiori?’

Juri blushes. ‘I want to talk to her, but she won’t let me get near her. I get chased away by the royal guard any time I try. I thought if I won this at least she’d have to listen to me.’

‘Does she just want to stay here?’ Utena asks. ‘That doesn’t seem right.’

‘I’m afraid to leave her somewhere like this,’ Juri says. ‘But I can’t make her leave. I can’t even make her talk to me.’

Utena thinks for a moment. This place does seem wrong, like a sort of waking dream, and she’s glad that Touga and Saionji came with her willingly. She’s not sure how real any of the other people here are, or whether this place is okay for them either, but she doesn’t like to leave the ones she knows. When it comes to extracting princesses from places, though, she’s not sure how you go about it short of kidnapping…

‘I might have an idea,’ she says.

*

‘No,’ says Touga, drawing himself up like an offended cat.

‘But you’re a dragon,’ says Utena. ‘Aren’t you supposed to kidnap princesses?’

‘Not from inside a town full of knights,’ Touga says. He loops his tail loosely around Saionji’s legs. ‘Besides, I already have a princess. I don’t need another one.’

Juri narrows her eyes. ‘I would never have bet money you’d never say something like that,’ she says.

‘Whereas you’re fixated on the one princess who doesn’t want anything to do with you,’ Touga replies.

Saionji glares at Utena as if it’s her fault, which might even be true. ‘It’s just, it’s Shiori,’ Utena says, looking up at Touga. ‘Can we really leave her somewhere like this?’

‘Why not?’ Saionji asks. ‘Ohtori wasn’t real either.’

‘Yes, but it was… at least a bit more…’

‘If you want Shiori so much you can kidnap her,’ says Touga. ‘You could even call it a rescue.’

‘I couldn’t!’ Utena imagines dragging Shiori out into the forest, protesting and screaming. It seems too brutal to imagine herself doing. ‘Oh.’ She reaches out rather tentatively, managing to touch Touga’s shoulder without cutting herself on his scales. ‘Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. I know you’re not a real dragon.’

Touga lets out a breath and says, rather more gently, ‘Your concern for her does you credit. But it might be best to find out whether we can leave before worrying about those who don’t want to.’

*

Utena wakes in the night to see Juri standing at the edge of the clearing staring up at the moon. Utena walks over to her, trying to tread quietly. The ethereal stillness of the night seems almost sacred, but of course she has to break it to speak, and her words are as clumsy as ever.

‘Are you okay?’ Utena asks.

Juri smiles sadly at her. ‘Do you want me to come with you?’

‘I’d like you to, but I understand if you don’t want to leave Shiori. I still feel like maybe I shouldn’t.’

‘But you need to find Anthy,’ Juri says.

‘Yeah.’ Utena looks up at the moon herself, remembering moonlight falling over Anthy’s face, so close to hers, long loose hair making her seem both stranger and more real than she ever did during the day. ‘I really do.’

Juri sighs. ‘I’ll come. Moping over Shiori’s not going to do me any more good here than it ever did. Maybe I’ll be some use to you.’

Utena beams at her, everything suddenly feeling so much easier. ‘Thank you, Juri.’

Chapter Text

The tower rises from the edge of the city, a delicate spiral of carvings running up its gleaming white surface to its glittering dome. Above it the clouds are tinted with sunset colours at midday.

‘It doesn’t really look like his,’ Utena says.

‘But we all thought of it, didn’t we?’ says Saionji.

It’s thinner than the chairman’s tower, more delicate, and yet it does call it to mind in a way Touga’s dragon tower of crumbling stone hadn’t. Utena fidgets, leaning on a nearby tree and stretching her arms over her head. If it is his, if it is him, she doesn’t want anything to do with it. And yet… and yet… isn’t that the last place she saw Anthy? She’s going to have to…

‘Shall I fly over and look?’ Touga asks.

Utena looks up at him, startled. ‘Would you be all right?’

‘Of course.’

Touga launches before she can say anything else. Saionji looks like whatever he was about to say has been trapped in his throat by the abrupt departure. He coughs and scowls.

Touga circles the tower and then lands on its side, claws digging into the carvings so that he can cling like a lizard. Utena watches him push his head through a window. He seems to stay there for a long time.

‘If it is the Chairman,’ says Juri. ‘They’re probably plotting.’

Touga’s head draws back from the window and he launches again, sailing gracefully back towards them and landing easily. He’s laughing.

‘What… who?’ Saionji says.

‘Miki,’ says Touga. ‘I startled him.’

*

Miki meets them at the door to the tower. He’s dressed in dark blue robes just a little too big for him, a pointed hat resting on his head. In his hand is a white staff, the tip of it glowing with golden light that catches the gleaming stars on his robes.

He smiles at them, a little sheepish. ‘I’m glad to see you all. Please, come in.’

‘Will I fit?’ Touga asks.

‘I think so, as long as you mind your wings,’ Miki says.

*

The room at the top of the tower has warm wooden furniture polished to a glow, screens and hangings making the place seem smaller and cosier although it’s big enough for Touga to stretch out. Above them, dappled sunlight falls through illusory branches spread across the top of the dome. It’s a beautiful, endless, summer afternoon.

‘So, you’re looking for Miss Himemiya?’ Miki says, pouring tea for Utena.

‘Um, yes, I…’ she tears her eyes away from the dome to look at him, but her gaze flicks back up. ‘Um, sorry, can you turn that off? It’s distracting me.’

‘Turn… oh, you don’t like the illusion spell?’

‘I think we had enough of illusions in the Chairman’s tower,’ Saionji says, roughly.

Miki’s staff flashes and when it dims the ceiling is just ivory. ‘It was just something pretty, like a painting,’ he says. ‘It wasn’t harmful. I’m sorry it upset you, Miss Tenjou.’

‘It’s fine,’ says Utena. ‘I’m just a bit jumpy.’ She smiles at him.

‘So,’ says Juri. ‘You’re working for the king?’

‘Yes,’ says Miki. ‘I’m the court wizard. But I expect he’d understand if I took a little time off to help you find Miss Himemiya.’

‘You’d come back?’ Juri asks, then she adds, ‘Is Kozue here?’

Miki’s expression closes off. ‘No. She was at first, we were court wizards together. But she did a lot of magic the king didn’t approve of, and she was causing trouble among the knights. People started calling her a witch.’

‘She was driven out?’ says Utena.

‘She left,’ says Miki. ‘There were rumours of witches in the woods. She said she’d find out if they were more fun than I was.’

Witches. Anthy’s not really a witch, but the world judges her as one. She’s not really a princess either, and Utena’s been looking for those. Maybe she’s been on the wrong track all along.

‘I think I need to see these witches,’ Utena says.

Miki blinks. ‘To see Kozue? I thought you were looking for Miss Himemiya?’

Utena thinks of animals in strange places, barbed words, resentful eyes in the dark. A touch, after all, of both magic and poison. ‘I am,’ she says.

Chapter Text

It’s a nice day for a ride in the woods. Utena has Saionji behind her, Juri has Miki on her horse, and Touga paces easily beside them. Miki and Juri are talking quietly and Utena is idly listening in.

‘It’ll be fine,’ Miki says. ‘As long as I’m back by the new moon. I have to cast an augery then.’

‘You’re really going back?’ says Juri.

‘Shouldn’t I?’

Juri sighs. ‘I suppose if you like being a wizard it’s fine.’

‘Don’t you like being a knight?’

‘It feels a little pointless. There aren’t any princesses that want me to fight for them and the only dragon around is being surprisingly well-behaved.’

‘Being a prince feels like that too,’ Utena says, giving away her eavesdropping and making Saionji snort.

*

The sound of something large moving up ahead stops them in their tracks only moments before a hut barrels across their path. It’s running hell for leather on chicken feet, smoke trailing from its chimney. Utena changes direction and gallops alongside it, looking up at a small side window. Despite its lack of connection to the ground there are briars growing around the window, tiny rose blooms open and filling the air with scent.

‘Anthy!’ she calls, with desperate hope.

Anthy’s head pops out of the window, hair cascading down the side of the hut. ‘Utena!’ she calls back, stretching her arms out.

Utena reaches back, not quite high enough to touch, and then Saionji grabs her waist and shoves her upwards into Anthy’s waiting grasp. Utena scrambles at the side of the hut with her feet, shifting her arms to hold Anthy’s shoulders as Anthy grabs her waist, and then her feet finally reach the windowsill. They tumble down to kneel on the floor, breathless and holding each other.

‘Anthy,’ Utena breathes. ‘I’ve been looking for you.’

‘I was looking for you as well,’ Anthy says.

A forced cough makes Utena look up. Nanami is perched on a battered work table, hands full of lavender, thyme and yarrow. Utena beams at her, fondness spilling out towards everyone she feels so overwhelmed with it. Behind Nanami, Kozue stands by the window with a crow on her shoulder and two more on the windowsill by her hands.

‘Hello, Nanami, Kozue,’ Utena says. ‘Are you witches too?’

Nanami scowls and throws her herbs into a bowl. ‘Apparently.’

‘Three is the traditional number for a coven, I hear,’ says Anthy, standing up and holding a hand out to Utena. ‘I was never part of one before.’

*

A lurch as the hut jumps over a fallen tree both jolts Utena and reminds her she didn’t come here alone. She pushes her head out the window and sees Saionji struggling to control her horse, which is apparently only magically tractable for her, or perhaps princes. Touga is stalking along beside it, trying to nudge it back towards the hut any time it seems likely to stray, but by the way its eyes are rolling he’s not doing much for its mood.

‘Can we stop for a minute so the others can catch up?’ Utena asks.

‘Others?’ Nanami pushes Utena out of the way to see who they are and a moment later screams loud enough to make Utena’s ears ring. ‘Kyouichi! Watch out! There’s a dragon!’

Saionji and Touga both jerk their heads towards the window, Touga’s expression falling into a frustrated startlement as if he’s searching his emotions for the appropriate one and coming up blank. It looks wrong on a dragon. Then Saionji’s horse trips over Touga’s tail and all three of them become a flurry of hooves, claws and legs.

‘Oh dear,’ says Anthy mildly, putting her hand on Utena’s shoulder and standing on tiptoe to see past her. ‘Perhaps we had better stop.’

*

The hut seems reluctant to stop at first, despite Anthy stroking its heaving walls. ‘It’s frightened,’ she says. ‘It doesn’t like being chased.’

‘Sorry,’ says Utena. ‘They — we — really didn’t mean any harm.’

‘Not you,’ says Kozue. A fourth raven lands and starts croaking at her. ‘We’re really being chased. And they’re getting closer.’

Nanami starts fussing with her herbs, tossing powders into pouches and throwing them over her shoulders until she’s draped in them. ‘Stopping seems like a bad idea, then,’ she says, as she sniffs one and then nods with satisfaction and watering eyes.

‘The hut can’t go much further,’ says Anthy. ‘It’s tired.’

‘We’ll peck their eyes out,’ says Kozue, ruffling the feathers on a bird’s chest with her fingertips.

The hut finally sinks to its knees, lowering the front steps to the touch the ground. Anthy throws something that looks a lot like birdseed into the fireplace and pats the mantle.

‘But who are they?’ Utena asks, stepping out onto the soft, leaf mould earth of the forest floor. She turns to look in the direction the hut came from, hearing distant shouts.

‘We’re witches,’ Nanami says, stepping down as imperiously as if she was entering her family’s ballroom. ‘Isn’t it obvious?

Juri’s horse reaches them first, followed by Touga and Saionji on foot, Saionji looking rather ruffled. Miki and Kozue, Touga and Nanami all stare awkwardly at one another, but Juri and Saionji are turning, like Utena, towards the shouting and faint smell of smoke.

‘Anthy,’ says Utena, reaching out towards her. Anthy’s face is blank enough to be frightening. ‘Is that…?’

‘Yes,’ says Anthy.

The shouts start to resolve into words, a chant of ‘Witch! Witch!’ rising over everything. The mob is approaching.

Chapter Text

The mob is composed of men and women, even a few children. Some hold torches and pitchforks, the ones that don’t have stones clasped in their hands. Utena draws her sword and steps forward beside Anthy.

The first stone thrown hits Nanami, leaving a streak of blood along her hairline. She curses and goes for one of her pouches. Touga pounces before she can reach it, not at the person who threw the stone but at her, wrapping himself around her so tightly he seems to be trying to tie himself in a knot. When she screams he unravels just as fast, falling into a loose circle with blood on his scales. Nanami, clothes torn and bloody, thumps his snout, ignoring the further damage it does to her hand.

‘Sorry,’ he says. ‘Sorry, Nanami, I forgot.’

‘If you want to help then fight,’ she snaps, finishing grabbing the pouch. She throws something that explodes into a cloud of red dust and leaves the crowd around it coughing, eyes streaming.

When another part of the crowd tries to push forward a stream of fire from Touga has them backing away.

*

Utena’s horse runs up to her and she swings astride, riding into the mob. Despite herself she wonders who they are, what they are, whether they’re as real as she is, brought here to serve this purpose. Nothing is forcing them to hunt Anthy down, she reminds herself, but still she hits out with the flat, stinging wrists until stones and pitchforks drop. Juri is doing the same and Touga’s fire streams over heads and in front of feet.

Saionji has a tree branch rather than a sword and that’s just as well for the crowd. Angry enough he still goes feral with rage and the mob seem to recognise him as a princess enough to hold back until he’s laid half a dozen of them out.

*

Kozue directs her birds with screams that sound like laughter and they go for eyes, for tongues, for ears, for anything soft and exposed. Miki is staring in appalled fascination, lingering on the edges with his staff clutched in his hands, at the blood streaming in the wake of his sister’s birds.

*

Juri’s horse rears back and goes down, a pitchfork through its chest. Utena turns her horse to go to the rescue, but another horse, black as ebony, surges out of the forest. Shiori is still wearing a gown, riding sidesaddle, but she’s holding a sword. The horse jumps, vaulting over the heads of the crowd, and then lands to stand over Juri, Shiori’s eyes wild with fear but her sword out.

The mob seems as reluctant to attack her as to attack Saionji, but unlike him she lets them back off.

*

Anthy is standing by the exhausted hut, her back against its wood. At first she seems to be watching, content to let the others fight her battle, then the heaving rise and fall of her chest becomes obvious, the frozen nature of her staring. When her eyes lift to Utena’s, blank with panic, Utena doesn’t know whether to go to her or carry on fighting for her.

*

Kozue goes down in an instant, a stone to the head, and then someone tries to set a torch to her dress. Utena drives her horse throught he crowd, heedless of who it might trample, and slides down to pick her up, throwing her across the saddle.

Miki yells, ‘Kozue!’ and a moment later the crows are aflame, long tails streaming behind them as the newly minted phoenixes continue their carnage, burning hands that try to ward them off.

Someone shouts, ‘Witch!’ at Miki and the next stone is aimed at him.

*

Utena props Kozue against the side of the hut. ‘Anthy,’ she says. ‘Anthy, do you have bandages?’

Anthy’s eyes turn to her, the whites showing around her irises. ‘Utena… Miss Utena…’

‘Anthy.’ Utena puts her hands on Anthy’s shoulders, tries to block the view of the fight with her body. ‘Kozue’s hurt. We need bandages.’

‘Bandages…’ Anthy blinks. ‘Yes, yes. Inside. I… I’ll get them.’

She’s shaking so hard as she pulls away from the wall, as if that one step is harder for her than the fight is for the rest of them, but she walks inside and comes back out with a bandages and ointment. Utena lingers by her and Kozue, sword out and eyes on the mob.

*

Touga comes over to them, one wing dragging with a pitchfork stuck through it. He turns to blow one last flame at the mob, but it comes out mostly smoke.

‘We’re losing,’ he says, without pre-amble. ‘If the hut’s recovered you’d all better run. Otherwise, anyone who can fit on the horses we’ve got.’

‘But you won’t fit,’ Utena says, realising he can’t fly.

‘There’s no point in all of us dying.’

‘I’m not leaving anyone behind!’ Utena realises she’s shouted it when she sees heads turn, Saionji slamming his branch down on someone’s arm and starting to run towards them as he realises what’s going on. They’re her friends, and maybe that’s not the best descriptor given everything between them, but they came with her, they came with each other, and even Shiori’s fighting back to back with Juri now, blood on her sword. ‘No one deserves to get left behind!’

‘Utena,’ Anthy says. When Utena turns to her she sees the tears on Anthy’s face. ‘You… I…’

Then Anthy’s face hardens and she closes her eyes. Around them the forest echoes with creaking.

*

The trees pull themselves free of the soil, walking on roots, branches grasping like claws. The mob screams, backs away, breaks and runs.

Anthy opens her eyes and smiles for a moment before she faints.

*

Utena opens her eyes in a hospital room, white and antiseptic. Anthy is passed out in a chair by her bed, her body falling forward to lie over Utena’s covers, hair streaming across them like a fountain.

A dream. A dream of a strange world, of past friends and past trauma, but in the real world Anthy has found her. Utena strokes Anthy’s hair, tenderness overwhelming her.

A groan from somewhere in the room makes her look up and they’re all there, Saionji just stirring while the others still lie asleep on the hospital floor. Nanami in a pile with Miki and Shiori, Kozue draped over Juri’s legs, Touga lying in a semi-circle pose that would probably be more comfortable for a dragon.

Utena watches as Saionji sits up and reaches over to shake Touga awake. She wonders, with a helpless smile on her face, what they’re going to do now.