Chapter 2

Saionji Kyouichi

       The next morning - 

Utena, having went to school a little early, waited there for Wakaba.

Yesterday, she'd lost sight of her friend, and went all around campus looking for her. Only after she'd tried calling Wakaba's dorm and found out that she'd returned safely did Utena return to the East Dorm herself.

Anthy hadn't said anything about Wakaba. She just played with Chu-Chu after dinner as usual. Perhaps she was acting that way out of obligation. Or maybe she didn't feel like Wakaba's problems had anything to do with her. Utena wasn't sure.

What she did know was that she herself was worried. So she waited in the hall. Perhaps Wakaba would come leaping onto her back as usual.

But Wakaba didn't show up. The bell rang and homeroom started, but Wakaba's seat stood empty.

At last, just as Utena was resolving to go to her dorm to check on her once classes were over, Wakaba arrived.

“Excuse me. Sorry I'm late,” she said in a dull voice, her head lowered as she opened the door in the middle of math class. It was a shocking change from her usual demeanor.

The math teacher, looking a little worried about the girl's state herself, decided not to say anything about her tardiness for now and waved her to her seat. Her other friends, who would ordinarily have teased her themselves, were also quiet.

“Morning, Wakaba,” Utena wanted to say to her friend, who sat right next to her. But she couldn't bring herself to.

As Wakaba passed, Utena caught a glimpse of her eyes, which were puffy and red. It looked like she'd been crying all through the night. When she saw that, Utena couldn't find her voice. Since no one else was saying anything, she, too, just let Wakaba take her seat in silence.

***   ***

“Expulsion, huh...?” Touga murmured, his body draped over an elegant white chair.

“That's right. We should expel Saionji Kyouichi from the Student Council,” Juri repeated firmly.

The Student Council room was currently holding the council's monthly special meeting. Present were Touga, Juri, and Miki. There was no sign of Saionji, which was just how Juri, who was currently proposing he be relieved of his duties as Vice President, preferred it.

“Expulsion? That's a severe punishment, don't you think?” Miki asked calmly as he jotted down the proceedings with his pen. He never met anyone's eyes during these meetings. He was a note-taking machine.

The one Juri was staring down, however, was Touga, sitting across from her. She watched every move on his face, trying to read what thoughts lay hidden underneath his mask.

“The Vice President attempted to break the rules of the Rose Seal. He made direct advances on the Rose Bride. We can't accept such shameless behavior from a fellow Student Council member.”

“He didn't actually break the rules, though, did he?”

“So you suggest we just ignore his behavior until he does, Touga?”

“That's not what I'm saying.” A small, perhaps bitter smile played about his lips. “I'm just saying that expulsion is, perhaps, overly harsh.”

“You seem rather set on defending him. Why?”

“Because he's my best friend.” Touga laughed, as if something was funny. “At any rate, I dismiss the motion for expulsion. I doubt Saionji would agree with it, after all. Which means that if I oppose it as well, it automatically fails.”


“Oh, it does seem like Saionji has caused quite a scene, so there should be some sort of punishment. But without a reason the other students would find suitable, we can hardly just fire our Vice President. Juri, you understand, I'm sure.”

Juri didn't answer.

Miki's expression seemed to indicate agreement. “Then the motion to dismiss Saionji as Vice President fails with one in favor, two opposed, and one abstaining.”

He finished writing this last event in the minutes, and put down his pen. The Student Council's monthly special meeting was over.

***   ***

The bell rang, signaling the end of class. Bowing to the teacher as he gathered his things, the students took a deep breath, like fish that had been returned to the water. The next moment, voices rang out throughout their own personal fishbowl, the classroom.

But Wakaba, who normally would have sprung back to life now, just quietly gathered her things into her bag.

“Hey, Wakaba,” Utena broached, mustering up her courage. “About that shopping we were talking about yesterday. How about going after school today? I kind of hurt my shoulder yesterday evening, so I'm probably not going to be able to play today.” She was forcing herself to be cheerful, but ended up sounding kind of awkward.

Despite the awkwardness, though, Wakaba was happy. She'd actually been wanting to talk to Utena all morning. But after the incident the day before, she wasn't sure how she should act. Should she laugh it off? Or cry? Or just act like she'd forgotten all about it?

“What do you think, is today okay? Look, the weather's good, too. Oh yeah, that store you were talking about before... uh, what was it...?” Utena continued, trying to break the uncomfortable silence. It was rare for her to talk so much like this.

       Thanks, Utena. You lied about hurting your shoulder for me. You can't fool me, though.

Wakaba decided to laugh about the whole thing. She didn't want to worry Utena, or make her think about what had happened yesterday. With that resolution, she raised her head.

“Hey Anthy, you wanna come too?" Utena asked Anthy, who was standing beside her.

“Yes.” Obviously, Anthy would hardly decline.

       Anthy, too...? Wakaba felt the feelings of friendship stirring in her heart quickly wither.

       I wonder why? Do I just want to be alone with Utena? Or is it Anthy herself?

Wakaba wasn't great with Anthy, but it wasn't like she particularly hated her, either. She just thought she was kind of weird, and hard to talk with.

But for some reason, hearing Utena extend the invitation left Wakaba feeling strangely cold. Maybe she did just honestly dislike Anthy? Was she jealous of her for being so close to Utena?

“So how about it, Wakaba?”

“ thanks.”

“Huh? But...”

“We can't go today. You want to play in your soccer game, right?” Wakaba did her best to smile. “It's okay. I kind of want to be by myself today, anyway.”

“Yeah?” The concern on Utena's face was painful.

“Sorry I can't come to cheer for you today, but do your best in the soccer game, okay?” At that, Wakaba stood and hurried out of the classroom. Not that there was anywhere in particular she wanted to go, of course.

***   ***

The game was half over, and the score stood 0 to 0. Neither the High School 1st-Year team nor the Middle School 2nd-Years could get a leg up over the other, and no goals had been scored.

On the whole, it seemed like the high school team was overwhelmingly stronger. At times, Utena would carry the ball up the field herself, but with no teammates available to pass to, she wasn't able to score.

       We've got to break out of this in the second half. When they attack, they kind of open up on the right side, so that's where we should aim our counter... When she heard the half-time whistle, Utena headed back to the bench, already planning out her team's strategy.

Anthy was waiting at the bench... which was really just the front row of the bleachers... with a towel and a drink for her. That was usually Wakaba's role. When the game stopped, she would run right up to Utena and stick to her like glue.

However, she wasn't here today. Utena felt like something was lacking when she took the towel from Anthy.

“It seems like a tough fight.”

The one who'd spoken was Touga. He suddenly came up from behind Anthy, smiling.

“You'll have to try to counterattack in the second half. Their right side opens up a bit when they’re on the attack. If you aim for that, you might have a chance.”

He casually echoed exactly what Utena was thinking. He must have been watching the game for a while. And he was clearly quite familiar with soccer, as well.

“Why are you here, Mr. President?” Utena's voice oozed with suspicion. For all that he'd been following her around before, she hadn't seen hide nor hair of him since the incident with Miki. She was angry at him, though even she couldn't quite say why. Perhaps she did just have a crush on him.

In any case, she was forced to deal with him now, and both her expression and tone of voice were naturally quite severe.

“What kind of a greeting is that?” Touga joked, seeing her reaction. He enjoyed seeing Utena upset, it seemed. “I came to cheer for you. I don't see the captain of your cheerleading team around today, after all.”

“Captain of my cheerleading team?”

“You know, that girl. With the head that looks like an onion.”

Despite herself, Utena almost burst out laughing at that description. It described Wakaba perfectly.

       An onion...? Well-put. Her attitude was already beginning to soften.

“Oh, you mean Wakaba. But don't you think it's kind of mean to compare her to an onion?”

“Ah, but doesn't the fact that you understood mean that you agree she looks like one?”

“W, well, it's okay for me to! I'm her friend!”

“Hmm. Her friend, huh?” Touga gave a suggestive smile.

“Anyway, did you want something? You're not here to challenge me to a duel, are you?”


“Perish the thought. I just thought we could talk for a bit.” He smoothly brushed a lock of hair away from his eyes. For a moment, Utena could smell a scent like roses.


“Can I have a moment of your time after the game?”

“What the hell do we have to talk...”

Utena was interrupted by the sound of the whistle, signaling the resumption of the game.

***   ***

The main street of Houou City.

Wakaba walked alone in the crowd. She took little notice of the gorgeous store windows, showy displays inside, or the young lovers who seemed to be enjoying them. She just stared at her feet, wandering aimlessly. She looked a little like a child who had just been scolded by her parents.

       It's not like I was that in love with him... Her thoughts kept returning to one topic.

       He's just handsome and good at kendo and does well in school, and everyone always squeals over him, so I decided to, too.

       Yeah. I was just being a fangirl. Like the crushes you get on hot idols, that's all... She repeated it over and over in her heart, like chanting a spell. But no matter how many times she said it, it just made her more sure that she was lying to herself.

Saionji Kyouichi – Wakaba's beloved, unreachable prince. Her love letter, which had ended up being exposed, had been meant to break through to him...


An impact. Wakaba bounced off a soft but unyielding wall, and lost her balance, falling back on her butt. Only then did she take notice of her surroundings.

She was inside a department store. The sales assistants were dressed in fine clothes, the lighting was bright, the place was filled with unobtrusive classical music, and a bottle of salad oil lay at her feet.

Apparently she'd run into someone in her distraction. The salad oil had probably been dropped by that person.

“I, I'm sorry! I was kinda zoning out there, and...” she stammered, grabbing the bottle and standing up.

“Be more careful next time. You should watch where you're...” The person speaking was the one Wakaba had run into – Saionji.

       Saionji-sama! Wakaba couldn't believe her eyes.

       Why is he in a place like this!?

In an instant, everything she'd said to him the previous day came rushing back.

       “If I liked someone like you, doesn't that make me a pretty sad person, too!?”

It was basically a confession of love. Of course, she'd already gotten his response...

Her entire body flushed, burning with heat. She was so dizzy, she felt like she was about to fall over.

“You...?” A moment after Wakaba, Saionji also realized who he'd run into. “You're that girl from yesterday, who was with Anthy and Tenjou Utena...”

Wakaba wanted to flee. Just like yesterday, she couldn't think at all. But her feet wouldn't move.

“...I'm Shinohara... Wakaba.” With no way out, she answered Saionji, looking away.

“Ah... I'm Saionji Kyouichi.” Saionji automatically introduced himself back.

After that, they settled into an awkward silence.

       Why is Saionji-sama somewhere like this...?

“Hey. Give that here.” Saionji spoke quickly, apparently uncomfortable. It took Wakaba a moment to realize that he was referring to the bottle of salad oil in her hand.

       Huh, so Saionji-sama cooks...? Still in shock over this unexpected meeting, Wakaba timidly handed over the bottle.

“Are you all right, sir?” An older female saleswoman hurried up. It was impossible to read from her experienced business smile whether she was concerned about their well-being, or whether she simply didn't want them blocking traffic.

“Yeah.” Saionji handed her the salad oil he'd taken from Wakaba. “Please wrap this up as a present. It's for a girl, so use a pretty ribbon.”

“Whaaaat!?” Wakaba burst out without thinking.


“Um... it's just, giving a girl salad oil as a present...”

“What's wrong with that?”

Wakaba looked back at Saionji's clearly irritated face. She flinched a little under his gaze, but unlike yesterday, that somehow just made her more resolved.

       Whatever. At this point it's all the same no matter what I say.

“Well, it's just, that's, like, an end-of-the-year gift. You should give her something cuter, like flowers or jewelry or something...”

“What!?” Saionji had chosen his gift with complete confidence. He felt it perfectly encapsulated his heartfelt wish for a domestic woman. Wakaba's comment came as a complete shock.

“Well, then, what kind of present do you suggest?” he replied testily. His tone suggested he was demanding an answer.

       He's asking me what kind of present... what should I do? Wakaba withered under his glare.

       Flowers or jewelry... those are too cliche. Gift certificates are too impersonal, and with clothes, getting the right size is a problem...

       What should I say? What would I want? What kind of present would make me happy?

“What's wrong? Can't think of anything better than salad oil after all?”


“Tooth... paste?”

Confusion flashed across Saionji's face, soon replaced with a look of triumph.

“Hmph. You clearly have no taste. What woman would be happy to receive toothpaste?”

“N, no, think about it! Toothpaste is a dream gift!”

“A dream gift?”

“Sure! Like, she uses the floral-scented toothpaste you gave to her, and while the scent still lingers, the two of you exchange your first kiss! Don't you think that's romantic?” That was a scene from an old shoujo manga that Wakaba liked.

“That's ridiculous. You read too many comics.”

He'd hit the nail right on the head. Wakaba reddened.

“Well, it's better than salad oil!”

“Toothpaste is a far more unnatural gift.”

“No, salad oil is!”


“Ah, excuse me, sir. Would you still like me to wrap this for you?” The saleswoman from before held the salad oil, her business smile slightly strained.



Cover & Translation Notes
Chapter 1 * Chapter 2 * Chapter 3 * Chapter 4 * Chapter 5 * Chapter 6



Translated by Dallbun, coded by Giovanna, and hosted on Empty Movement.