It wasn’t that Miki had more fangirls than Touga or Saionji, certainly not more than Juri or Utena, it was simply that out of all of them he was least equipped to dealing with them. Especially when the Ohtori Academy dance was coming up. “I am truly flattered that you would all like to go with me to the dance,” he said to a group of high school girls who stood over him, “but I’m afraid that I simply am unable to…”
“Oh come on Miki.” The lead girl said, bright red curls all around her head; her name was Momoe. “You simply have to go to the dance, it just wouldn’t be the same without you, and it would make me oh so happy if you would take me.” She batted her eyes at him, several of her compatriots did the same.
“I certainly don’t want to make you unhappy…” Miki looked all around, but there was no escape; he had nothing against these girls, but he couldn’t break their hearts by telling them no…
“Well, there you are Miki.” He and everyone else turned their heads to the new speaker. “Is everything all right?”
“Miss Juri!” Miki couldn’t keep the excitement out of his voice. “Is there anything I can help you with?” He hoped so, the girls would have no choice but to let him be on his way if Juri needed him!
“Not much, I just want to know what time you’re going to be picking me up for the dance.” Juri smiled, the girls gasped, Miki’s face turned red. “I was thinking 4: 30 would be a good time, what do you think Miki?”
“It figures.” Momoe said, she slunk away with the other girls. “The cutest boy would be taken already…”
“Um, thank you Miss Juri.” Miki said, barely able to look Juri in the eyes, his face was still so red. “I appreciate you saying that, I just hope no one gets the wrong idea about us.”
“And what do you mean by that Miki?” Miki blinked, then stiffened when Juri leaned to whisper in his ears. “We’ll have to make it look convincing, and besides, I think it would be fun to have a pretend date, don’t you think?” She pulled her head back.
“Um, yes, I agree Miss Juri, 4:30 it is.” Miki watched Juri smile and walk away. He hoped that his heart would be steady in time for the dance; he knew that Juri didn’t feel that way about him, no matter how much she might have teased him in the past. Oh, if only his heart would listen!
Juri Arisugawa was in sight of the door to her room when she heard a familiar voice. “Hold it right there you!” She turned and saw Nanami Kiryuu standing thirty feet away from her, pointing at her. She stood like that, her hand shook, and then she marched on up to her. “You thought you could get away with it, didn’t you?” Nanami trembled, then stamped her foot and stopped. “Well, Keiko told me all about it and I will not be having any of it!”
“Any of what?” Juri said, arms down at her side.
Nanami grumbled. “You know perfectly well what; You and Miki, at the big school dance!”
Oh. Juri ran her fingers through her hair. “I am surprised you would be so concerned about that; Miki is not your ideal man as I recall.”
“Of course he isn’t!” Nanami harrumphed. “But that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be good practice for when I and my ideal man can be together alone, like we were meant to be from the very beginning…but then you had to go and ruin it just when I was about to make my move!” Nanami fumed. “I should have known that whole ‘Like Brother and Sister’ business was too good to be true.”
“Now just what do you mean by that Nanami?” Juri stared into Nanami’s eyes.
“Nothing!” Juri held her gaze on her. “Well, it’s just, you are more affectionate with him than you are with anyone else, so it was either the whole thinking of him like a little brother thing or…”
“Or as you can see, Miki and I are going together to the big dance, so clearly I do not think of him as a little brother.” Juri crossed her arms over her chest. “Is that everything Nanami.”
“Um…yes, I do think so.” Nanami walked away, wondering how it happened; she went in with perfectly reasonable indignation, and somehow Juri made her look like the bad guy! If only she could…but no, she couldn’t…
“Have I truly been that affectionate with Miki?” Juri frowned; she’d never thought of him like a brother, just as a friend, a good close friend who she wanted to help. That was why she’d intervened, and the fun she had with it didn’t mean anything…did it?
Juri went into her room, closed and locked the door, and mused.
Miki clicked on his stop watch. 4:30. He stood in front of the door to Juri’s room. He knocked on the door. “Miss Juri, it’s me, Miki. Are you ready for our…?” Miki’s tongue caught on that last word; he’d practiced saying it alone in his bathroom, but now that he was taking Juri to the big dance, the word ‘date’ was too heavy to get out.
The door opened. “Yes I am Miki, and I see you are too.” She stood before him, her suit unlike any he’d ever seen her in before; her pants were a deep blue with thin green lines along the seams, while her shirt was a light purple with ruffles around the collar and at her wrists. Miki looked down at his tuxedo, and felt as plain as a pauper next to her. “Well Miki?” She’d put her arm out, Miki understood.
“Yes Miss Juri, of course.” Miki looped his arm around Juri’s. They walked out together. “I want to thank you again for doing this Miss Juri; it’s very kind of you, and I promise that I won’t make things awkward for you.” They were good friends, such good friends, he would not ruin it by imagining that this could lead to anything genuinely romantic. Which it wouldn’t. Because it couldn’t. So there.
“That’s very kind of you Miki, but I assure you, there is nothing you could do to make me feel awkward about this.” Juri looked down at Miki as they walked along to Ohtori’s own dance hall; he had a focused expression on his face, like just before their fencing matches. She smiled; he was hopeless at first, too stiff and awkward, and when the opportunity presented itself he couldn’t commit to strike. In retrospect, he reminded her of Shiori and so she had to protect him, make him stronger. Could her feelings for him have developed along the same path that they had for Shiori? If so, would their relationship break down the same way?
“Miss Juri, we’re here.” Miki interrupted her train of thought. She looked up, they were at the great double doors to the dance hall. Other students were passing through, turning their heads to look at them before moving on. “Shall we?”
“We shall.” Juri said; they were friends, she would not let that change no matter what her feelings were, and that was that.
They’d been dancing together for 27 minutes, Juri and Miki. Miki had practiced dancing when he was little, when he still got along with his sister; his parents thought they looked so adorable, he a little prince, she a little princess. He’d put those days behind him, put his sister behind him, the girl that she once was was no more, the girl that she was now would never show herself at a stuffy and dignified event like this. “Well, imagine seeing you here.”
“Kozue?” Miki and Juri stopped while Miki turned his head to look at Kozue; she was with a boy he didn’t know, she usually was.
“I would have thought you’d be too busy studying to attend; I must be rubbing off on you after all my brother.” She chuckled.
“Um, Kozue, do you think we could…” The boy cleared his throat.
“Just a minute.” Kozue said. “So, Juri,” Miki bristled at her informal address towards their senior, “Are you here just to make sure no one tries anything with Miki, or are you having fun of your own?”
“Of course I’m having fun; Miki is my best friend.”
“That’s funny, he used to be mine too.” Kozue said. “I sure hope nothing happens to ruin your friendship.” Kozue danced away with the anonymous boy. Miki forgot his features already.
“Miki.” Juri said. He looked up into her eyes. “You’re squeezing my hand.” He looked at her hand, the one she was leading with; she was taller after all, he couldn’t lead like that.
“I’m sorry.” He loosened his hand. “I just…”
“I understand being upset with someone you thought you knew Miki.” Juri sighed. “I can’t exactly tell you to forget about that, not with me the way I am.” She looked around, she didn’t see Shiori anywhere. “But I would like you to promise me something Miki.”
“What is it Miss Juri?” He looked into her eyes; his eyes were so gentle and deep, she’d learned how deep after all her intense instruction for him.
“I want you to promise me that no matter what happens that we will always be friends.”
“Of course Miss Juri, I can’t imagine any reason why…” Miki shook his head. “I promise you Miss Juri; no matter what happens with us, we will always be friends.”
“Thank you Miki.” The song stopped, another started. Juri would let this one play out, and then she would say what was on her mind and in her heart.
“Did you enjoy the evening, Miss Juri?” Miki Kaoru said as he walked with Juri to her room, arms looped together once again. She was leading, and her strength inspired him to follow in her footsteps.
“Yes Miki, very much so.” She knew that she would have a good time with Miki, but she hadn’t expected the sense of peace and contentment she had, holding Miki in her arms as they danced together.
“Well, you two are happy.” Juri looked up and saw Shiori standing in front of the door to her room. “I can’t imagine a more deserving pair than you two.”
“Shiori.” Juri’s voice froze over. “What do you want?” Was she going to tell Miki? Tell him everything? Tell him that she was…
“Believe it or not Juri, I really am here to see if you’re happy with Miki, and you clearly are.” She turned her attention to him. “You are a lucky boy, I hope you know that.”
“Of course, Miss Shiori.” Miki blushed, he had no idea what to say, what Shiori was getting at.
“If that’s everything, then you can be on your way.”
Shiori frowned. “I mean it Juri; I understand, I remember everything we did, the both of us, not just me but you too. Even so, I can’t help feeling the way that I do and when I saw you two together, I thought that I could be happy for you.” She closed her eyes, tears leaked through. “Can you please let me have that Juri?”
Juri faltered, but Miki held her up. “Miss Juri? What happened between you and Shiori, exactly?”
“A lot of things Miki.” Juri closed her eyes. “And yes Shiori, you can be happy for me, and I promise I’ll be happy for you too.”
Shiori’s eyes were wide with shock. “Thank you. Juri.” She walked away like a weight had been taken off her shoulders.
“Is everything all right, Miss Juri?” Miki said.
Juri let go of him and faced him. “Miki, I am not a perfect person, and I don’t think you realized that; I can be cut-off, cold, and I can hurt people without meaning to. I’ve tried to keep a certain distance with you, hoping you wouldn’t realize this about me; the way you became with your sister, I didn’t want that to happen with us.”
“I see Miss Juri…that’s why you had me make my promise.” Miki nodded. “I’m not perfect either, and from the sound of it, we both share a lot of the same faults.” Miki raised his head.
“That’s why when I go back to my dorm room and when Kozue gets back, whenever she does, I will do my best to properly apologize to her.”
“You would?” Miki nodded. “You?” Miki nodded again. “Well…” Juri smiled. “I guess that answers another question of mine, about this little dance date of ours.” Juri held her arm over Miki’s shoulder.
“Miss Juri…” Miki’s blush took over his face. “Would I be too hopeful in thinking that you did not ask me out, as just a friend?”
“Not at all.” She brought her arm down on his shoulder and pulled him in. “Are you ready Miki? Your first kiss I mean?”
“As I’ll ever be, Miss Juri.” They kissed.