When Too Little is Said
Summary: Shiori/Juri background done a little... differently. Femmeslash, obviously. Mild smuttiness. Inspired by discussion after role-play. Entirely in Shiori's POV.
The way we fight
The way I'm left here silent
Oh these little earthquakes
Here we go again
These little earthquakes
Doesn't take much to rip us into pieces
-'Little Earthquakes', Tori Amos
It started with a simple question.
It was the sort of lazy afternoon they used to love, when Juri would relax as she usually did, sitting neatly propped against the tree they tended to gather around, and she would sit there with her, watching her like a television set and talking about makeup and boring teachers. He would stay with them for a short while, chatting easily with Juri about fencing strategy, the books she was reading, little gossips about what was happening at school. Then he'd leave, and left her and Shiori together on the shadow-dappled, cool grass beneath the tree. It was ancient, probably had been on the school longer than the old chairman, and its branches formed a perfect seat. Shiori would bring water bottles, Juri a selection of fashion magazines, and both of them buried themselves in discussion of layers and ruffles and silly things, as the heat of near-summer made them damp, made their clothes stick to their backs and their hair curl in wet tendrils on their foreheads. They'd complain about the bumpy surface of the tree often, wriggled in discomfort as the rough bark scratched them through their uniform skirts, and if Juri's face was more flushed than usual when Shiori brushed against her, she didn't notice or comment.
She was lying draped across Juri's lap, apparently in an uncomfortable position or cutting off circulation to her friend's legs, as she seemed to want to shift position every few minutes. The magazine she was reading held no interest to her, she rested it against her knees, smoothing her skirt up once in a while as it lay in folds around her thighs. Juri seemed to be taking an unhealthy interest in bird watching, as the only direction she caught her looking was up.
"Hey, Juri-san?" she asked, folding her magazine and putting it on her chest. Juri gave a sort of murmur to show that she was listening, typical of her. She was always so skimpy with her words; it made it uncomfortable to try to talk to her. She was getting a little distant lately, now why could that be? A peek upwards showed her the smooth angular lines of Juri's face, the fringe of her eyelashes as she gazed ahead, the occasional blink. And leaf shadows in her hair.
"I was wondering," she continued, nervous now, her fingers toying with the bow at her collar, "I was talking with some of the other girls today, you know. About boys, and dating, and other things, and I know you're not interested, Juri-san," she started, when Juri grimaced slightly and opened her mouth as if to speak, "But let me talk, anyway. I'll get to it, I promise. Um...so, I was talking to them about it. You know, when we change in the locker rooms, the subject comes up. And they were talking about...well, mostly about something else, but besides that. They were talking about kissing."
Juri seemed to have no reaction to what she said, so she continued, her words coming quickly, running together. "I mean.I've never done it before. So, when I was listening to them all talk about it, I thought it would be...interesting. To try it just once. And some of them said that they experiment on each other, you know. Just to feel what it's like." She'd tried it before, on her pillow. But pillows didn't have lips, or arms, or tongues, which she'd heard could be used, too. Which was frankly disgusting, and she didn't intend on ever trying that. But surely, just a kiss wouldn't be too bad.
"So.Juri-san. Have you ever been kissed?"
"No." The curt, almost harsh reply should have been enough to tell her how likely getting her request granted would be. Juri seemed to have become incredibly stiff, as though carved from stone, and her eyes.her eyes didn't once meet hers. She seemed totally focused on the horizon. She hated when Juri pulled this trick, it made her feel so silly, like what she was saying was immature or stupid.
" I just wanted to know. Um, if you would, well.they said they could only do it with someone 'special', and it doesn't count as really kissing if you do it with a girl. So do you think you could do it, or let me...you know, kiss you? Just to see what it's like?"
Juri exhaled quickly, a brief huff of air that sounded as though she'd been holding her breath for some time. She finally tilted her face to look down at her, and Shiori almost instinctively flinched away at the look in her eyes. She looked wild, almost feral, and her hair drifted down to obscure parts of her face as she reached down and grabbed Shiori's shoulders. "Don't ask me to do that." She said roughly, "Don't ever ask me to do that. If you care about me one bit, don't ever-" she cut herself off, squeezed her eyes shut as though she'd had a horrible migraine, and sighed.
Shiori had never heard Juri sigh like that. It sounded like it was tearing something inside for her to do it.
It was later in the day, perhaps in those short, dusky hours right before evening, that she'd arrived at her dorm. They shared, they always requested that specifically. Of late, Juri had been awfully modest and reclusive, refusing to watch her even change into nightclothes. Her showers were briefer than usual, and she spent a lot of time looking anywhere but her. Sometimes Shiori would wonder what was running through her friend's mind lately, for her to act this way, but she'd chalk it down it just another sign that she was far too dense to truly understand Juri and her complexities, just as she couldn't understand or be a part of the brighter parts of her life: modeling, fencing, higher achievements and academic programs.
Juri always seemed so complicated to her, it was impossible to think of them as even being the same age. Sometimes, when they were sitting in their usual 'study positions', Juri perched on her top bunk, as Shiori always had a bit of a thing with heights, and Shiori cross-legged on the floor, she'd look up once or twice to ask a question and just stop to look at Juri's face, turned to all angles, shades and areas of brightness in the harsh light of her reading lamp, and imagine Juri's mind like a puzzle, constantly fitting and re-fitting pieces. And she'd wonder what her friend though of her now, secretly, now that they were grown and Shiori had turned out so utterly, depressingly normal.
This time, she had taken longer than usual to arrive, and stood just inside their room, her eyes strange, her wild hair curling around her face from the humidity and the slight sprinkle of rain, and she stood there poised in the doorway as though she was bolted in place. The bright light in the hall lit her from behind, and the effect was striking, a shadowed figure clutching her umbrella like she did her foils.
What she had to say was considerably less dramatic.
"I'm back, Shiori." Three words, and it had been like the conversation had never happened. Like she'd never snapped at her, or grabbed her. Quickly, efficiently, Juri stripped off her coat and placed the umbrella in the small stand beside the door. Then she moved gracefully into her desk chair, crossing her legs, and nodded at Shiori. If she was uncomfortable, it didn't quite show. It was clear that this afternoon's conversation was not to come up again.
"Hey, Juri-san." she replied, quietly.
"...Shiori, about earlier today."
"I was just...no, never mind."
"I'm sorry I asked you. It does seem a little weird, doesn't it?" The old habit of toying with anything at hand surfaced, and she found herself carefully and delicately shredding the Styrofoam cup she'd been holding into tiny pieces. She'd have to vacuum them tomorrow, and she hated cleaning. "If I'd had thought it would insult you, I wouldn't have bothered."
"It wasn't that."
The last apology left no room for reply, there seemed to be nothing to be said. The tea maker made faint, liquid noises as it stewed the leaves, and the sound of Juri's pencil as she scritched out replies to unknown homework assignments sounded unbearably loud in the sudden, almost solid silence between them. Shiori had her own homework, but she wasn't in the mood to work on it at the moment. Besides, what was study hall for if not catching up on procrastinated-away homework? But of course Juri would be doing hers so soon. She'd been so diligent about it all lately, it gave her the insidious, sneaking suspicion that she was doing it simply to avoid conversation with her. Of course that was an awful thought, and it showed how much of a worrywart she'd become, but it didn't stop that little wispy end of thought to come trailing in every other night.
Juri had been watching her again, she noticed just out of the corner of her eye. Her expression was unusual, just as out of place as the one she'd had when she'd first entered the room. At first, she thought maybe Juri was sad, or curious, or even, possibly, regretful. Much, much later, far past the vacuumed Styrofoam chips and past when the tea turned cold, untouched, she'd swear the look was one of pity.
She didn't quite remember which of them started it. She didn't recall whether she'd brought up the topic once more, and it had led to this, or if Juri had ventured to discuss it, had allowed her a single kiss. Someone must have begun it, for the results of it all were clear. Someone must have started the first embrace, the first brush of lips. The memories were unclear, as faded and blurred as the pictures of them at the time were. Somehow, they'd managed to put uncertainties away, and somehow, they both ended up on the scratchy, school-supplied rug in front of their closet. She'd been anxious, and desperately nervous, so that she overdid the enthusiasm to make up for her insecurity. She'd been waveringly demanding, and frightened and excited and surprised that everything they did felt good. Electrically so, it felt like sparks shot from some source inside her body towards other areas, moving inside out and outside in.
What she did vividly recall were details. Small, seemingly unimportant ones, like the shocking tingle she'd received when Juri first brushed her fingers against her breast, tracing her nipple gently. The strength she'd felt in Juri's arms when they wrapped around her, her own wanton excitement as she lifted up her shirt and skirt, and the feel of Juri's silken curls, wrapped in her fingers like embroidery thread.
And then she did remember the moment that something inside seemed to have snapped, and the world was suddenly white-hot and all encompassing. She'd made a small noise, somewhere between a moan and a whimper, before slumping back onto the floor. She felt her breaths come quickly, heavily, and was suddenly aware of her sweat, the damp tendrils of hair across her eyes and in her mouth, her skirt rolled up to her waist, her tie somewhere on the floor, and the snapped clasp in her bra biting into her shoulder blade. Dimly, she realized that they must have made a mess and they'd have to clean it in the morning, and she hated cleaning.
Juri was watching her again, and she looked imposing and unbreakably, perfectly in control even with her hair down around her bare shoulders, and Shiori managed a smile for her. Briefly, she felt a slight flash of pride and triumph, for a fleeting moment, they'd been totally equal, both of them, as they lay entwined and covered in sweat on the floor. Of course, the thought was quickly buried. She felt small and foolish and ashamed and almost dirty, and she couldn't think of really anything to say.
Juri stood there for what felt like an interminable amount of time before rising to her feet, her long nightgown falling to modestly cover her legs, her fingers delicately adjusting the ribbon at the collar, closing it to cover her breasts and shoulders, and with a swirl of fabric, turned to the bunk. "I'm going to sleep, Shiori," she said, and the tremble in her voice must have been disgust, "Good night."
She'd felt like curling up on the floor right there and willing herself to disappear. She felt like she could be choking on the lump in her throat, or crying from the painful little clench in her chest. Instead she only lay silently until Juri turned off the lamp, counting the stains in the ceiling and not quite believing that everything would be over in the morning.
It never failed to make her wonder. That hadn't been the end of it. The day afterwards, and the day after that, things had resumed to a sort of brittle sense of normalcy. They both spoke to each other lightly, of unimportant things like magazines and upcoming fencing competitions, and bowling. They sat together during lunch with him, his name escaped her even now, they slept in the same room and chattered over cups of coffee. However, it was like the night had left some kind of indelible mark on them. A lingering odor, or a particularly hard to reach itch. It was uncomfortable, embarrassing, and definitely a conversation taboo.
Neither of them wanted to go near the carpet. It was part of it all, the secret that was never spoken aloud, never hinted to in conversation. It was as though, if someone were to say a word about it, it would smash something large and solid and balanced. Something about the whole thing reminded her of that game, the one where you weren't supposed to talk about a large pink elephant, or think about the large pink elephant, until it got so that the large pink elephant was all you ever thought about or saw. It was like that: wherever she looked, she was reminded of she and Juri, her hands down there, Juri's hands on her back, on her stomach, on her thighs.and she'd have to concentrate on something ordinary and commonplace.
There was something burning there, now, that there in the spot where she never thought about before. It felt warm and sharp and sensitive, and she didn't know quite what to do about it. It wasn't always there, though, it was like a kind of sickness that came and went, with little clenches in her stomach and pinprick shocks everywhere on her body. She'd had it once when she looked at herself naked and smooth in the mirror, and once when Juri forgot the eggshell barricade between them and lay her hand on her shoulder blade during music class. She didn't really know what to make of it, and it frightened her in that exciting little way that made her want more of it.
Juri probably didn't have it. It seemed.unclean.somehow, something that belonged to people who were closer to the dirt than pure and perfect Juri-san. No, whatever had passed that night must have left her unaffected, she must have been trying to forget. Shiori took that away from her, spitefully, thoughtlessly.
She couldn't have been sure if she'd done it intentionally. She didn't really know if she had really wanted to make Juri be with her again, in her own little brand of equality. It could have been any number of things that made her want to do it again: the open windows, streaming cool and moist night air into the room, the way she felt in her new spaghetti-strap pajamas, or the way Juri kept licking her lips, the way she always did when she was nervous. Of course, inwardly she knew that this was something someone should do with the boys, not with girls.but Juri was so close, and of course it didn't matter if it was with a friend.
That time, and the time after that, and every time afterwards, they parted without even saying a word. They showered the feeling of each other off of their skin, they rolled themselves in their blankets and shut their eyes. It was a funny way of going about things, just acting like it wasn't even there most of the time. It was grating for Shiori, who was unused to secrets and needed open discussions. Mostly she felt as though something inside was growing and chafing against her.
She both feared and look forward to the day when it would explode.
"You're going to practice with him again?"
"But you two were in the fencing hall almost all afternoon, yesterday. Shouldn't you be resting? Aren't your muscles sore?"
Juri was always so infuriatingly calm about everything. It wasn't as if they'd had anything planned for that day, no. And Shiori knew that competitions were about to start, so Juri naturally wanted to make sure she was in top form (as if she wasn't always in damn top form) before then. She didn't know why she had been so upset when Juri had suddenly started drifting further away from her. After a while, a great deal of her time was spent either in the fencing room or the library. Juri had always been the top of her class, but Shiori knew that she didn't always study so intensely, or practice with him quite so much. It was unusual, and it left her with the sneaking, fearful suspicion that Juri was trying to avoid her, shut her out somehow.
"You're welcome to come along."
Of course she was. But it was never much fun for her. She would sit and sit for interminable hours in one of the viewing chairs, watching he and Juri fly at each other, moving so gracefully it made her throat hurt to watch. She'd listen to the screeching, squeaking sounds of the shoes on the floor and the metal foils striking each other and wonder if she'd ever be able to move like them. That wide, shadowed hall always seemed like part of another world. She was an intruder, something dark and square and jagged, a sharp contrast with the smooth white uniforms and neatly arranged groups of fencers. She'd never told Juri. She knew she wouldn't understand.
"No thanks," she'd ended up snapping at her, setting a stack of clothes on the table with a thump. "I've got too much cleaning to do anyway."
And Juri had left without a word of protest or even concern.
Juri no longer lingered with her at their tree. Each time Shiori asked if she could stay with her, Juri made some excuse to leave. Most of the time she complained about fencing practice for the upcoming competition, but those came and went. In every contest Juri and him and their captain won, seemingly without effort. The last time Juri had given her an excuse about fencing practices, she snapped at her that there was no point in them, she'd always win anyway without even trying. And Juri had thrown back angrily that Shiori didn't know anything about fencing, so she shouldn't make stupid assumptions about things she was ignorant about. Shiori's mouth had opened, but she'd found no words, and Juri turned away before any reply could have been made.
Through the days that followed, Shiori kept a closer watch on Juri and him than she had ever done before. It was as though she was wearing blinders, her vision focused only on the way they laughed together, fought together. The way he spoke when he sat next to Juri, the way he looked into her eyes, and how she looked back...Juri still avoided her eyes. He had never looked at Shiori in that way. She could tell something had changed, in the way he moved, in the hesitant way he reached for Juri's hand, in the looks he gave them when they walked towards their dorm when the sun began to touch the tips of the trees.
It was as though the world of theirs was moving, shrinking and cutting away pieces until it no longer fit her.
Juri told her nothing. Once, she'd asked her how she felt about him, as a friend. Juri said simply and bluntly that he was a friend, and a good fencing partner. She'd said nothing more, but Shiori could tell she was nervous about the topic because her strides became long and hard to follow.
"Then how do you think of me?" she'd asked after her.
Juri hadn't answered. When they got back to the room, she told her the wind had been in her ears.
Class picture day. She combed her hair into a shining, sleek cap that, for once, actually stayed in place. Her uniform, she ironed and starched, and it smelled strongly of detergent and the violet perfume she wore. Juri's curls were bright golden in front of her as she fidgeted on the steps, trying to surreptitiously adjust her tie, smoothing strands of her hair from out of her eyes. Pale pink lipstick that day, she'd felt unspeakably bold and mature. He was there next to her, and she amused herself by making edged little jokes to him as the man set up his cameras. Of course, he didn't seem to find most of them funny, but he'd probably never laughed at her jokes anyway.
She'd spent a few moments in grim contemplation, wondering what he would say or do if she were to tell him about Juri. About what they had done, and about the carpet in the room that neither of them could ever go near anymore. Would he be disgusted? Would he never see Juri the same, as perfect and brilliant and beautiful? And then he'd leave them both, and maybe she could be alone with Juri again. Juri, who knew everything and did everything so perfectly, who no longer needed Shiori now that she had him.
The man had finished adjusting his camera down below, but her attention was not on him. Her eyes were firmly on Juri, not that she noticed in the slightest. And wasn't that always the way with her? Juri never noticing her, that was, not Shiori never noticing Juri. Of course Shiori noticed Juri. She was hard to miss, wasn't she? With her hair and eyes and supermodel looks and intelligence and diligence and competence and everything that made the teachers turn into goo over her and made best friends turn into statues because of her presence...even if she wasn't sharing a room with her, she'd notice her. Shiori realized just for a moment that she really, honestly hated Juri, and Juri may or may not have even cared about that hatred.
She turned, and the camera flashed as she watched the boy beside her. "Hey," she said suddenly, behind her hand, "Did you know? Juri is in love with someone. But it isn't you."
She found that the sight of a heart breaking was beautiful.
He came after her instead, and she let him. She taunted him quietly, taking rough kisses and bruises from his fingertips against her arms as punishment. While other girls hid the tiny dark blotches made from men's lips, she took hers and flaunted them as badges of triumph, powdering them over with concealer in front of Juri, but offering no explanation as to how the marks came to be there. She came in the room after dark, hair tousled, shirt slightly undone, and talked about late practices in the music room and a volleyball game invitation. She made a point to undress in the room instead of in the bathroom or closet, exposing the pale red-blue bruises on her upper arms.
Her relationship with Juri soon became strained thin, just to the point of snapping. Juri's eyes became very cold and distant, her conversations more formal and less affectionate. she'd expected it, looked forward to it, and relished it to a point. It was funny, how it all made her so ecstatic that she felt like screaming in joy, and hurt her so much she felt like something tore away from her along with Juri. There was no going back, though, and she refused to repent. He was all she needed, proof that she, at least in one aspect, could surpass Juri and make her notice only her.
She rolled up the carpet and threw it in the trash, saying she didn't care for its color. Juri didn't comment.
A week later, she transferred to another school at his request. As she stood on the very threshold of the doorway, saying her goodbyes, she'd felt like screaming, ripping apart the posters on the wall, throwing them in Juri's face, in her eyes as blank and unfamiliar as a stranger's. 'Say something!' she'd wanted to scream, 'Yell at me! Hate me! Beg me to stay!'
"Goodbye." Juri had said.
"Goodbye." she'd replied, and felt sick as she closed the door.
Later, much later, once she had moved into the new school and adjusted to everything, once she had found new people to talk to and a tree to sit in during the little hours betwen the end of school and dinner time, she lay between the rumpled, twisted sheets of her new bed and lamented the cleaning she would have to do later. He snuck into her room once in a while, taking advantage of her lack of a roommate, and she let him as always. He'd complained of her lack of response, the absence of the warm attention she gave him when their relationship first started.
And when he tried to hold her in his arms and she jerked away almost on reflex, thinking that this was not what she'd wanted, he snapped at her angrily. "Why did you come with me if you didn't even want this? What do you want from me?" But no matter how she searched, she couldn't find a single answer.
And it was such a simple question.