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Created using the Fanfiction Header Builder
Title: Epilogue for a Dancing Girl
Fandom: Revolutionary Girl Utena
Wordcount: ~3100
Rating: PG
Characters: Nanami, Touga, Miki, Tsuwabuki, Keiko
Notes: Written for Yuletide for Estuary. Betaed by rocknlobster. Spoilers for the end of the series.
Summary: Nanami in the aftermath. Sometimes the revolution is quiet. Sometimes it starts inside you.



For the most part, being in eighth grade didn't feel that different than being in seventh grade. Nanami was an inch or two taller, and she had filled out a little more, though she still felt gawky next to Juri-sempai. (Though she would rather die than admit it.) Other than that, the girl who stared back at her in the mirror didn't appear remarkably different than the one this time last year. The other students, too, were the same. The rest of the seventh grade class had moved along with Nanami, and it hadn't made them any more interesting.

Something, however, was different. Something about the school was different, though Nanami couldn't place it.

The easiest explanation was the absence of her brother. He and Kyouichi had both graduated. No one had been surprised when her brother was accepted into Tokyo University. Only the best for the Kiryuu family. If Nanami didn't marry a suitably illustrious man right after high school, the same would be expected of her.

She didn't know where Kyouichi was, exactly. He was in college somewhere, determinedly ignoring his family's business. She could ask her brother where he was, if she and her brother were still speaking.

Because he wasn't really her brother, after all. Every time she thought of him, she reminded herself to call him Touga, never big brother. She tried to stop referring to him as her brother, and she always failed. Some things were hard to let go.

Anyway, Nanami no longer idolized her brother (Touga) enough to think that his absence was entirely responsible for the change on Campus. The masses would always find new gods to worship. She was learning that the hard way. She wasn't a social outcast (never!), but she was no longer queen of the school. Part of that might be blamed on the lack of Keiko, Yuuko, and Aiko. A proper queen needs foot soldiers. The four of them didn't hang out any longer, and Nanami couldn't bring herself to regret it. They were only pretending to like her in order to get closer to her brother, and she... well, she hadn't been very nice to them, had she? She could understand that now, and maybe that was part of the mysterious change or maybe it was simply a part of growing up.

Miki, at least, was still her friend. If anything, they were closer than ever. He had grown more outgoing in general. Maybe he was finally breaking away from that sister of his. (Nanami knew she had no room to criticize anyone for having a brother complex, but Kozue was scary.)

Miki was still on the student council, along with Juri-sempai, and Nanami would sometimes come by where the meetings were held, an unused room in the south high school building. Nanami had no idea why being a member of the student council had once seemed so illustrious to her. Who wanted to sit in a musty room and plan school festivals? Even Miki and Juri-sempai no longer seemed very enthused. Tsuwabuki was excited, however. Becoming Miki's protege had given him a burst of confidence, and he took his new duties very seriously. He would smile at Nanami when he saw her, like two old friends who no longer had much in common. Nanami supposed that was accurate enough.

She would ask Miki about council business whenever they had lunch together, just to be polite, but fortunately, he never spent much time on the subject. “No one cares about us very much anymore,” he admitted between bites of salad.

Nanami scoffed. “Everyone cares about you and Juri-sempai.”

Miki shrugged. “Sempai is graduating this year. After she's gone, no one will think about her.” He said it with finality.

Miki's words brushed against something in Nanami's mind. “Do you ever think about her?”

Miki looked at her, puzzled. “Juri-sempai?”

“No, another girl.” The girl everybody had forgotten. The girl Nanami could remember nothing about. She tried to remember something, anything--a voice, or expression, but it kept slipping away. “I hated her.” That she could recall.

Miki smiled, a little wryly. “Nanami, there's no way I could remember every girl you've hated.”

Nanami sighed. “Never mind.” If the girl had been important, Nanami would remember her, right? Yes. She changed the subject. “Will you come over tomorrow to help me with math?”

Miki brightened. “Sure! You're making a lot of progress.”

“It doesn't feel like it,” Nanami groused.

Miki's smile grew sympathetic. “You understand more than you realize. You just have to let yourself believe it.”

As they packed up their things and went their separate ways, Nanami wondered if that was true of more than just math.

The semester wore on. Nanami's math grades improved, and she began to to sit with a new group of girls at lunch. She wasn't their leader, but Kaori and the rest shared her love of fashion, and they could both talk intelligently about tea ceremony and gossip about pop idols. Nanami had more fun with them than she had ever had with Keiko and the others. She hated when they disagreed with her, but she held back her desire to snap and command.

Perhaps things had been going too well. Perhaps that was why when Nanami went to answer the knocking at the door one evening, instead of Miki or Kaori, it was her brother standing there, looking as beautiful and confident as always.

Nanami stood gaping for about five seconds before she shut the door in his face.

“Don't be childish, Nanami!” He called through the door.

“At least I'm not rude enough to show up at someone's home unannounced!” she shot back.

“I didn't think you would take my calls.”

“You were right! Now go away.”

“I made reservations at Jacques'.”

Nanami paused. Jacques' was her favorite restaurant. She hadn't been in ages. Miki didn't care for French food, and Nanami would never be seen eating out alone. They used to go there, she and her brother, before he found more rewarding female company than his little sister. She opened the door. “Just dinner,” she declared.

“Just dinner,” her brother agreed.

The meal was as awkward as Nanami thought it would be. The food was delicious, but for the first time Nanami could remember, her brother didn't seem sure of what to say.

“How's the university?” Nanami finally asked, the social graces her mother had instilled in her finally overcoming her resentment and anger.

Her brother latched on to the conversation topic. “Very well,” he told her. “I'm making a number of fruitful connections. You know what father says about knowing the right people.”

“And do you occasionally go to class?” Nanami asked scornfully.

Her brother wore a look of hurt that Nanami was sure was affected. “Of course I go to class. You know I've worked to get where I am. Father has always made it clear that I'm to make my own way.”

“And you're father's perfect son.” Nanami injected her voice with as much sarcasm as possible.

Her brother looked her sadly, and Nanami wanted to punch him. “Why are you being like this?” he entreated.

Nanami clenched her fists under the table. “Why are you being like this?” she hissed. “We don't need to play happy family anymore, Touga.” He flinched at her venom filled use of his name, she noted with satisfaction. “We're not really brother and sister, and you only pretended to care about me. You said so yourself. I've always loved you. I probably always will. But you never loved me.” She struggled to hold back tears.

Touga (yes, Touga) reached out to her, but she recoiled. “Nanami,” he began haltingly, “you have the wrong idea.”

“Don't lie.” She battled to keep her voice low. “I went looking. I have proof. There aren't any pictures of you as baby.”

Touga sighed tiredly. “Yes, I'm adopted.” He paused. “But so are you.”

“What?”

“We were adopted by the Kiryuu family together. We are brother and sister.”

Nanami stared at him. Surely there were words for what she was feeling, but she couldn't imagine what they were. “Why?” she finally managed to force out. “Why did you lie?”

Touga shook his head as if to clear it. “I... I'm not sure.”

“You're not sure?” Nanami repeated incredulously. “You lie to me and break my heart, and you can't even remember why you did it?”

“I must have had a good reason. I wouldn't hurt you senselessly.”

“No?” Nanami raised an eyebrow. “I see things a lot more clearly now. How you've always strung me along, doling out just enough affection to keep me hungry.”

“I'm sorry, Nanami.”

Nanami continued on like she hadn't heard. “And then you lie, as cruelly as possible, about the one thing that mattered to me more than anything.”

Touga frowned. “Why was it so important to you?”

“Don't make this about me.”

“I want to know,” he insisted. “Your whole life we've lived as brother and sister. Why wasn't that enough? Why did it matter so much that we be related by blood?”

Because I needed to be special, Nanami didn't say. She had needed that bond, the undeniability of blood to set her apart from the rest, to keep her from being just another member of the swarm. But that made her sound so desperate and petty. “It's not important why it mattered to me,” she answered, because that was true. “What's important is that you knew it was important and used it to hurt me.”

“I've said I'm sorry. I'll say it again.”

“Thank you for apologizing,” she said, politely but coolly. She stood up. “Dinner was delicious. Thank you for treating me.” Then she calmly walked out the door, ignoring Touga calling her name. She waited until she was safely home before bursting into sobs. Once her crying had subsided, she reached for the phone and dialed Miki's number. When he answered, the first words out of her mouth were, “I wish I were an only child.”

Miki was silent for a few moments before he laughed shakily. “Nanami, I know exactly how you feel.”

Life did what it always did: it went on. The next day, Nanami pulled herself together, went to class, and behaved as if the world were normal. And slowly, it almost began to feel that way. She joined the fashion club with Kaori, even though the other members lacked her taste and sophistication. She was determined to forge her own identity, to never again be “Touga's little sister.” Kaori teased her about her drive. “You'll be vice-president of the fashion club by the time we've started high school.”

Nanami tossed her head dramatically. “Vice-president? I'd never aim so low.”

She was leaving the club after working late, when she almost collided with another girl. “Pardon me,” Nanami said before looking up. Then she paused. “Oh,” she said stiffly. “Hello, Keiko-san.”

“Hello, Nanami-san,” Keiko replied, emphasizing the honorific. “What are you doing out here so late?”

“Finishing some work for the fashion club,” Nanami told her.

Keiko scoffed. “Don't you mean 'foisting your work off on others'?”

“No,” Nanami said calmly, “that's not what I mean.” She nodded her head. “Please excuse me. It's late.”

“No!” Keiko grabbed Nanami's shoulder. “You don't get to walk away from me.”

Nanami brushed Keiko's hand away. “What do you want?”

Keiko's face flushed with anger. “Don't act all high and mighty.”

“I'm not. But I don't want to talk to you, and I didn't think you wanted to talk to me.”

“So, now you're going to play innocent? After the way you treated the three of us? The way you treated me? You used me!”

Nanami's eyes narrowed. “Now who's playing innocent? You never actually liked me. None of you did. You just wanted to get close to my brother. And it worked! But then he toyed with you and tossed you aside, exactly like every other girl he ever dated. We used each other,” she finished coldly. She started to turn away but stopped when she saw Keiko's eyes filling with tears. “I did treat you badly,” she admitted softly. “And I think someday I'll feel more sorry than angry. But not today.”

After that, there was nothing left to say. Nanami walked silently out of the building, and Keiko made no move to stop her.

Nanami called Miki again that night. She asked about the composition he was working on, she asked about his studies, she even asked about Kozue. She didn't bring up her conversation with Keiko. In fact, she didn't talk about herself at all. She wasn't sure if that was emotional growth or avoidance.

If she was a little nicer to Kaori afterward, or a little more patient with the other members of the fashion club, no one remarked on it. She saw Keiko occasionally, out of the corner of her eye, but they pretended not to see each other.

Once, when Nanami went down to the student council office, Miki and Juri-sempai had already left. Tsuwabuki was still there, hunched over stacks of notebooks and paper, a very serious expression on his face. Nanami looked over his shoulder to see row after row of facts and figures. It was the kind of complex yet tedious busywork that Nanami had always forced others to deal with back when she had been council president. (She thought of her conversation with Keiko and flinched internally.) “Looks tough,” she remarked mildly.

Tsuwabuki jumped in his chair. “Nanami-san!” He looked ruefully at the papers he had accidentally scattered. “I was just trying to get a head start on next week's meeting.”

“Next week?” Nanami looked at him. “You mean you don't actually have to do this yet?”

“It's good to show initiative.” Tsuwabuki sounded like he had said the line to himself many times.

Nanami reached over and helped tidy up the papers. “Why don't you let Miki handle this? He's really good with numbers.”

Tsuwabuki gave a frustrated sigh. “Yeah, I know. Kaoru-sempai would be done with this by now. He'd do a better job too.”

Nanami reached out to place a hand on Tsuwabuki's shoulder, but stopped, unsure. “I didn’t mean it that way.”

“I wanted to impress him,” Tsuwabuki confessed. “Kaoru-sempai is so smart and so patient with me. I wanted to pay him back.”

“Miki isn't that kind of person,” Nanami assured him. “You don't have to worry about paying him back.”

“I know. I know that.” He was silent a minute. “But I'm the youngest one on the council. I have to show them I'm not a child.”

Nanami decided to put her hand on his shoulder after all. “Oh, Tsuwabuki. You don't have to grow up all at once.”

He leaned into her touch, perhaps without even noticing it. “That's easy for you to say. You are a grown up.”

Nanami was quiet for a while. “No,” she said at last, “but I might be getting there.” She pushed the papers away. “Come on. I'll bet you haven't eaten. Let's go get dinner.”

Tsuwabuki stood up and smiled at her. “I have been saving my allowance. Where to do you want to go?”

Nanami almost pointed out that she hadn't intended him to pay--she was older and had been the one to invite him--but refrained. Maybe part of growing up was the wisdom to see what others needed. She smiled back. “Surprise me.”

Quite possibly it had been naïve of Nanami to think that she could end the semester without another disaster. She was studying for her last exam of the term (Japanese; she was good at Japanese), when the phone rang. Half annoyed at being interrupted and half relieved for the break, she picked up the phone.

“Nanami,” said a familiar voice.

She slammed the phone down. Immediately, it rang again. Nanami went back to studying kanji and let the machine get it.

“Nanami, stop behaving like a child.” Nanami scowled at the Touga’s patronizing tone. “I knew this would happen if I called you, but you didn't like it when I showed up unannounced.”

“Damn right I didn't,” Nanami muttered.

“However angry you are, whatever I've done to hurt you, you should at least hear me out.”

Furious, Nanami wrenched up the phone. “Should? You're going to tell me what I should do? What gives you that right?”

“I'm your brother.”

Nanami laughed harshly. “And you've done a wonderful job.”

“I know I've hurt you.” Touga's voice was weary. “Sometimes on purpose, and sometimes because I simply didn't care enough about your feelings. I've been an asshole, as Saionji puts it. He's certainly always eager to remind me. But I've never stopped loving you, even when I was terrible at showing it.”

“Is that supposed to make it better?”

“I hoped it would, but it's up to you. We've both made mistakes, Nanami, but I'm trying not to make any more monumental ones. I'd like a second chance, if you'll give it to me.”

A second chance. Wasn't that what Nanami had been looking for all this time? A chance to be a better person than she had been before. Sometimes it worked, like with Tsuwabuki, and sometimes it didn't, like with Keiko, but one had to try. “What do you want from me?” she asked warily.

“To see you. To talk to you. To get to know my little sister.”

A part of her wanted to say no. A part of her was done with him. But the rest of her missed him so much. She missed the little boy who had ruffled her hair and taught her how to ride a bike. The little boy who had paid attention to her when nobody else would. She missed the young man she had been so eager to impress, so desperate to keep. “You can take me to Jacques',” she declared, using all of her willpower to keep her voice steady. “On Sunday.”

“On Sunday, then.” Nanami didn't think she was imaging the relief in his voice.

After she hung up, Nanami put away her textbooks. She wasn't going to get any more studying done tonight. She could call Miki or Kaori, but right then she wanted a little solitude.

Eighth grade hadn't felt all that different from seventh grade, at first. But it seemed that everything was changing. They weren't bad changes, though. She went to bed early that night, and as she turned out the light, she felt a little more grown up than she had that morning.

This entry was originally posted at http://veleda-k.dreamwidth.org/300997.html. Please consider commenting there.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
flonnebonne
Jan. 7th, 2013 05:51 am (UTC)
Really liked this fic! Being able to have a quiet revolution seems like a big leap in maturity for Nanami.

Btw, your link to this fic from http://roselinedcoffin.livejournal.com/ doesn't work!

veleda_k
Jan. 7th, 2013 06:03 am (UTC)
Thank you! I'm glad you liked it it.

(And dagnabbit! Thanks for pointing that out. Fixed the link.)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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