Chapter 3


"Alright, how about this?"

"A sewing kit? No way! Get this instead! I think it's cute."

"I don't want cute, I want fancy. Have you no taste at all?"

"Enough to know not to get her salad oil!"

"Says the girl whose first choice was toothpaste."

Saionji and Wakaba were at the gift corner on the sixth floor. They were searching for a good gift that was neither salad oil nor toothpaste.

"Fine, then. How about this? Surely you have no complaints here."

"Ummmmm, I don't know, I think it's a little too low-key. I'd give it 65 out of 100."

Before she knew it, Wakaba had started talking to Saionji comfortably. Quarreling about gifts had done the trick, it seemed. Now she was back to her usual self - a cheerful 14 year-old girl.

"What do you think of this one?" Wakaba's next choice was a cute, leaf-shaped hair ornament.

To Saionji, a hair clip was an acceptable accessory, unlike earrings or necklaces. And the use of colors on this one was quite tasteful. He thought it would make a good present for a female middle-school student.

"Alright. Let's go with this. You over there!" he haughtily addressed a young saleswoman. "Please wrap this gift. Use a pretty ribbon."

"Yes, of course. And how will you be paying?"

"By credit card." With a practiced motion, Saionji pulled out his card. Wakaba found herself staring.

       A credit card... how mature. A card wouldn't suit the image of an ordinary high school student, but with Saionji, it didn't seem out of place. Perhaps due to his appearance and self-important attitude.

       He really is cool after all... Suddenly, Wakaba remembered all the things that she'd loved about Saionji. She stared at Saionji again like she used to back then. That profile, that wavy hair, the way those hands moved... they all belonged to Wakaba's love, the boy she'd seen in her dreams so many times.

Except now, he was close enough to touch. And it was just the two of them.

"Now, please sign here."


Wakaba watched as Saionji took out a silver fountain pen. It was decorated with the rose crest of Ohtori Academy, and looked of extremely high-quality.

"Wow, that pen..."

"Oh, this?"

As he looked at the pen, nostalgia and melancholy... emotions that he rarely showed... stirred in Saionji's eyes.

***   ***

"Oh, I was given this when I graduated middle school. They were awarded to the two students who most excelled in sports and academics." Touga answered, holding his silver fountain pen. He twirled it around in his hand, showing it off to Utena.

"Huh... pretty impressive, Mr. President. Guess you've always been a real ace."

"Please, stop calling me Mr. President. I'd like you to call me 'Touga.'"

"Yeah, right." Utena didn't trust Touga in the slightest. In the middle of an otherwise casual conversation, he would start hitting on her out of the blue. She didn't understand the feelings of someone who could say romantic things so lightly.

"You seem down, Tenjou. Aren't you satisfied with your victory?" Touga whispered in Utena's ear, while she was staring off to the side.

Utena's plan had been pulled off perfectly, resulting in a brilliant victory. Of course she was happy about that, and when they heard the end-of-match whistle, she and her teammates giddily hugged each other.

But when she returned to the bench, that feeling had faded. Wakaba would normally be the first to run up and hug Utena, but she wasn't there. She hadn't thought it was so important to her, but now that Wakaba was missing, Utena realized how lonely it was without her.

"Are you that bothered by your cheerleader being gone?"


"Hey, Tenjou. Has anyone ever told you that friendship is nothing more than a misunderstanding?"

"A misunderstanding?"

"That's right. You have friends, don't you?"

Anthy and Wakaba's faces sprang to Utena's mind.

"Of course."

"How nice. But do you think they consider you a friend, as well?"

For a moment, Utena didn't understand what Touga meant. Your friends were your friends - she'd never doubted that for a moment.

"For example, Anthy. You call her your friend, but does she feel the same way?"

"What are you talking about? Anthy and I are friends."

"So you're saying that she thinks of you... as a friend?"

Utena wasn't sure how to answer that. It was true that if you asked Anthy, she'd probably answer that Utena was "the one Engaged to her." 

"Well, what about you, then?"


"What about your public nuisance of a friend?"

At first, Touga didn't seem to understand who she was referring to. A moment passed before he answered.

"Oh, you mean Saionji?"

"You're best friends, aren't you?"

"Yes, we're best friends," Touga answered without hesitation. "But the question remains whether that's a one-sided friendship as well."

***   ***

The mechanical mole stuck its face slightly out of its hole. It was struck by a red hammer with so much force that it seemed like the machine might break.

"Saionji-san, that's too hard! Hit it a little more lightly!"

"What!? You want me to hold back?"

"If you don't, you're going to break it!"

"But I'm already going easy on it!" Saionji hit another mole with the hammer. It made such a loud sound that even the worker standing nearby looked worried.

Suddenly, a fanfare played. A noisy, electronic one.

"W, what now!?"

"The game is over. You got the top score! Awesome!"

The readout on the cute mole-adorned game machine flashed "HIGH SCORE."

"Hah! I sure showed them!" Saionji declared triumphantly, putting down the hammer that was attached to the machine. "Heh. That was more fun than I expected. I suppose it's not bad to come visit the amusement center once in a while."

"Geez. 'Amusement Center?' You're so old-fashioned, Saionji-san!"

"R, really...?"

Saionji looked around in embarrassment. Wakaba thought it was the cutest thing she'd ever seen.

       I can hardly believe it... I'm really at the arcade with Saionji-sama...

Wakaba had brought him to the arcade because he'd said that he'd never been to one before. "But that's like a standard date spot!" she'd urged him as she dragged him along.

       I didn't think I had it in me... Wakaba was surprised that she'd been able to ask Saionji to come here at all. Until now, she'd just been one in the crowd, gazing longingly at 'Saionji-sama.' But now, they were out having fun, and chatting together, just the two of them. She'd dreamed of that so many times... though this was slightly different from the dreams she'd written about in her love letter.

"Well, it's about time for me to go. It's already getting late," Saionji spoke, though it was only a little after five.

"Oh... really...?"

"What's wrong?"

Wakaba looked at the package Saionji had bought from the department store. The one with the leaf ornament that they'd chosen together inside.

       He said he's giving it to a girl... but who? Could it be for Anthy? But...

"What is it?"

"Um... I was just wondering who you're going to give the hair clip to," Wakaba managed to get out. If she didn't ask now, she'd never have the chance again.

"Oh, this?" Saionji answered casually, as if it was a boring question. "It's for my little sister."

Saionji Wakaba

That wasn't true, of course. Saionji didn't have a little sister, or any siblings at all, for that matter. It was just a little white lie, since he was reluctant to say that he'd gotten it for Anthy. Wakaba, however, believed him completely.

       Oh, his sister... Wakaba sighed in relief that it was such a minor thing.

       So it's just a present for his sister... not for a lover...

       That's right. They say Saionji's a real woman-hater. There's no way he'd get a present for a girl. Wakaba didn't doubt for a moment whether Saionji actually had a sister. Probably because she wanted to believe it was true.

"Why do you ask?"

"Well, I just thought it was strange, since I heard that you don't really like girls..." 

"Who told you that!?"

"Um, who...? Well, like, they say you just throw out all the love letters you get." Saying that out loud stung Wakaba's heart.

"A feminine presence is a disruption to the dedicated pursuit of swordsmanship. Besides..."


"If I read them, then I would have to write responses. It would be rude not to."

Rude? Wakaba's jaw dropped at Saonji's amazing indifference to romance. Apparently he didn't consider it rude to throw away a love letter without reading it.

"What's so funny?"

"No, nothing!" But Wakaba wasn't able to hold back the tide of laughter that overwhelmed her.

All Saionji could do was frown at her in puzzlement.

***   ***

         That night -

In her room in the East Dorm, Utena rolled around restlessly in her bed, thinking about what Touga had said earlier.

'Friendship is nothing more than a product of misunderstanding' - she'd never considered that before. But she felt like she couldn't just dismiss it out of hand. People had one-sided loves, so why couldn't there be one-sided friendships?

"Hey, Anthy." She turned to face Anthy, who was resting after an evening of playing marbles with Chu-Chu.

"What is it, Utena-sama?"

"What do you think friendship is?" Utena just said exactly what was on her mind.


"Yeah. Some guy recently told me friendship is just a misunderstanding."

"Oh? Well, perhaps that's true." It was unusual for Anthy to take an opposing stance like that. "There are those who say that all feelings are one-sided. That's why everyone is always looking for returns on their emotional investments."


"Yes. Like a wedding ring, or matching accessories... If there's no physical sign that your feelings are reciprocated, you feel insecure."

"Hmm..." Utena kind of understood, and kind of didn't. “Anthy, what do you think?”


“Yeah. You and I are friends, right?"

“We're... friends?”

“Sure. I've said that before, haven't I?”

“Yes. But...” Anthy looked down.

       Is this one of those one-way friendships, too?

Anthy's shadowed expression made Utena feel uneasy. Were the two of them really friends? Utena and Anthy? Utena and Wakaba?

Eventually, Utena fell asleep, her questions still unanswered.

***   ***

Woosh. “Four hundred ninety-six.”

Woosh. “Four hundred ninety-seven.”

Woosh. “Four hundred ninety-eight.”

The sound of a shinai cutting through the air broke the silence of the night.

Woosh. “Four hundred ninety-nine.”

Woosh. “Five hundred... hah.”

His practice swings completed, Saionji wiped the sweat from his brow.

Five hundred swings before bed. That was what Saionji had done the night he'd lost to Utena, and what he continued to do every night without fail.

“Don't burn yourself out, my friend," a voice came from the darkness. Apparently the person had waited until Saionji's practice was over.

“Touga.” Saionji recognized him by voice alone. He wasn't particularly surprised that Touga was here. But although Touga had called him 'friend,' Saionji's response wasn't particularly warm. "What?"

"Isn't that a little much?"


"The number of practice swings. After all, you were already strong enough to defeat those moles this afternoon."

"Hmph. I suppose it makes sense that spying on people would be another one of your unwholesome interests." Saionji turned his back on Touga. "What do you want?"

"Don't be so cold. Actually, I came to invite you on a date."

There was a slight pause before Saionji's tentative response.


"Now, now, don't misunderstand. I don't swing that way." Saionji didn't know about Touga and Miki, since Touga had never seen fit to mention it. "I came to invite you on a doubledate. Me and you, with Tenjou Utena and her friend."

"Tenjou Utena's... friend?" Saionji looked back.

In the darkness, Touga's lips curled upwards in a small smile.

***   ***

"U-- tena--! <3" Wakaba leapt onto Utena's back. Taken by surprise, Utena came close to falling out the window she'd been looking out of.

"Wa, Wakaba?"

"Good morning, Utena!"

"Uh... good morning..."

Wakaba's mood was such a reversal from the day before that Utena wasn't sure how to respond. Naturally, she looked and sounded somewhat confused.

"You seem kind of down, Utena!"

       So were you, yesterday! Utena thought, smiling awkwardly back at her. "You... think so?"

"Yeah, but I have just the thing to cheer you up! A present from your beloved Wakaba!" Wakaba got off of Utena's back with a little hop. It was clear that she was feeling perky today.

"Here you go!"

Wakaba held out a small box, just about big enough to sit on the palm of her hand. It was tied with a cute ribbon - obviously a present.

"What is it?"

"It's a compact! It matches mine. <3"


"What, you don't want it?"

"No, no, of course I appreciate it..."

"Ahh...! You don't seem very appreciative. How about this, Utena!?" Wakaba started playfully strangling Utena.

"Okay, okay! I get it, Wakaba!" Utena laughed even as she was being strangled.

For whatever reason, it seemed like Wakaba had gone back to her usual self. Utena didn't get the impression that she was faking it.

       Did something good happen to her?

"Hey, Utena! Are you listening to me?"

"Yeah, yeah! I told you I am." Utena could only smile wryly, as Wakaba seemed ready to launch into an account of what she did yesterday.

       It's good that she's cheerful again... but it'd be okay if she's wasn't this cheerful. Wakaba was in such a good mood that Utena was taken aback. Nevermind 'cheerful' - Wakaba was almost floating on air.

Wakaba's chatter was interrupted by one of their classmates, Tsukamoto.

"Hey, Utena. You got a minute?"

"What's up, Tsukamoto? Is it another basketball match? If so, you should discuss it directly with her manager, me!" Wakaba answered for Utena. "Manager" was, of course, a self-appointed title.

"It's not that, Shinohara. Tenjou, you've got a visitor."

"A visitor?"


Utena's question was immediately answered, as shrieking voices arose from the entrance to the classroom.


"Why are you here in the Middle School?"

"I saw your kendo match! It was soooo close!"

"Welcome to the Middle School, Kiryuu-sama!"

Utena's brow furrowed.

"Yo, Tenjou," Touga called out loudly to her, heedless of her feelings. The reactions from her classmates were immediate.

"Huh? Tenjou!?"

"Touga-sama and... Utena?"

"Tenjou and the President...? I'd never have suspected!"

All eyes were instantly locked on her.

"What's going on, Utena?" Even Wakaba was kind of glaring at her.

"I'll explain later."

"Oh, okay..."

Utena smiled vaguely, but inside, she was grumbling.

       Dammit, Touga! Just you wait...

If he'd noticed her reaction, Touga showed no sign of it as he stood waving from the entrance to the classroom.

***   ***

"Don't come and call me out in public like that," Utena said, as soon as the two of them were alone. "Isn't the Dueling Game supposed to be a secret?"

Obviously, the fact that special duels were held for the members of the Student Council was kept under wraps from the general student body. Utena had made no promises, but she kept it a secret like the Student Council members did anyway. It wasn't for their sake, though - it was for Anthy's. If the Dueling Game was public knowledge, then Anthy who served as the 'Rose Bride' prize, would surely be the object of great scrutiny. Utena just didn't want to subject her to that.

That's why she was so upset with Touga for thoughtlessly approaching her in front of everyone.

"Hey, now. There's no need to glare. Obviously I wouldn't deliver a challenge in a place like that."

"Of course not. But how am I supposed to explain why you came to visit me?"

"Simple. Say I came to ask you out on a date," Touga whispered. His voice was so sweet, it might have melted the heart of any other girl.

Utena, however, curtly rejected him. "I don't like lies."


"Yeah. This seems like a good time to tell you - I hate liars and playboys."

"Oh, but it's not a lie. I really did come to ask you out, you see."

"I just said, I hate playboys, too."

Utena didn't believe him.

       This guy asks out girls like most people say 'hello,' she thought.

"If you don't have anything else to say, I'm gonna head back."

"But you haven't given me an answer about our date." Touga sounded completely relaxed, like he was sure Utena would say 'yes.' That only irritated Utena more.

"Sorry, I don't want a repeat of that other time."

"That other time?"

Utena flushed. She remembered how, the first time she'd met Touga, he'd caught her off-guard by kissing her out of the blue.

       Not that again...

His lips were so warm, it was like being kissed by a flame...

"Anyway, I'm not interested in an invitation from a dangerous guy like you. If we went on a date, who knows what you'd try to pull?"

"Well then, how about a double date?"

A double date - just like it sounded, two couples going on a date together. But what about the other couple...?

Utena turned back towards Touga, looking dubious.

"I'll bring a friend, and you bring a friend too, alright?"

"A friend?"

"That's right, a friend."

       A friend... Back to that topic again. The word pulled at Utena's heart.

       A friend of mine... Anthy and Wakaba's faces floated before her eyes.

"Well, I'll just be off, then."

"Hey, hold it! I haven't said anything about agreeing to..."

"We'll be waiting for you at the entrance to the Dueling Arena forest after class," Touga said as he left.

"...go on a double date," she finished, even though Touga couldn't hear her.

"No way I'm going on a double date. If he thinks he can just decide that by himself, then I hope he enjoys waiting." She couldn't stand how he'd decided everything by himself. "That playboy can just wait at the forest forever. Maybe he'll learn something from it."

Touga had sounded completely sure that Utena would come. Maybe he just thought that no girl would turn him down.

"Yeah, it's not like I agreed to anything, so I have no reason to go... not really..."

Frustrated, Utena kicked a small rock by her feet. The stone struck the side of the school building with a 'clink.'



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.