Challenge: Duel Names Drabble Set
Theme: Jealousy, Limitation, Conviction, Self, and Revolution
Juri was beautiful. Juri was strong. Juri was mature and stoic and brilliant and noble. Juri, Ruka thought, might just have been the single most amazing young woman the universe had ever produced.
Shiori was pretty, he supposed, in her way. But Shiori was weak. Shiori was childish and histrionic and dull and petty. Ruka had fucked half-a-dozen Shioris in his time, and they were nothing special. He told Juri that frequently, but she never believed him.
Whether she believed him or not, he was right. And Juri was intelligent, so she would figure it out one day. That was why Ruka never doubted for a moment that he would win her in the end.
All he had to do was wait. He had all the time in the world.
He would never grow old with Juri.
That was the first thing he thought when they told him. That was the reason he cried, just a little. He wasn't ashamed of it, either. A dying man has the right to cry, just a little.
He would never grow old with Juri. Of course, he knew now that he never could have anyway. He was almost as undeserving of her as Shiori. And deserving aside, Juri, for some intangible, indecipherable reason, loved Shiori and not him. Not all love, he had learned, was like his love for Her. Not all love, he had learned, was in any way deserved.
Juri deserved Shiori.
It was a sudden realization, and it resolved almost instantly into certainty. Juri, the most amazing young woman the universe had ever produced, deserved to have the person she loved. What he or Shiori deserved didn't enter into it.
Juri deserved Shiori. Juri deserved the Earth and the Sun. There wasn't a star in the sky that wouldn't be honored to serve as a jewel on Her hand. Juri deserved the power to make any dream she could ever desire to come true. There was a way he could win her that power, he knew.
It was too late to make things right with her for himself. It was too late in his life to learn kindness or gentleness or the humility to seek forgiveness. But it was not too late to make things right for her, not if he could accomplish it by the same means with which he was accustomed to accomplishing his goals.
Juri Arisugawa, he decided, would have everything she deserved.
The last selfish thing he ever did was kiss her.
He knew it was selfish because of the way she struggled. He knew it was selfish because of the way he felt when she eventually stropped struggling. He knew it was selfish because of the way she glared jade daggers at him as she escaped. He didn't care. He was quickly running out of breaths, and he felt (almost) justified in stealing some from the person to whom he had sworn his very last.
When he saw the hatred in her eyes afterwards, he felt only relief that she was too strong for him to break. That was how he knew that his final moment of selfishness was over.
It hurt to die. All true endings hurt. A happy ending is a story cut short.
But some stories end so that others can begin.
Juri, who was not, after all, the most amazing young woman the universe had ever produced, forgot about Ruka, like she forgot about the boy who was drowned rescuing her sister and the girl who was crucified rescuing the Rose Bride. Shiori, who was not mature or stoic or brilliant or noble, had to remind her.
"Oh," said Juri. "Him."
"Yes," said Shiori. "Him. And it's perfectly horrid of you not to remember. He was in love with you, you know."
"I don't know," Juri replied coldly. "He spent so much of his time pursuing—" she recalled Shiori's history with Ruka "—other goals."
"Well of course, silly. He knew what you thought of him, and he knew you'd reject him if he came on too strong. So I guess he was waiting for you to figure it out on your own. We were all younger then. We had all the time in the world."
"But he was dying," Juri objected.
"So were we!" Shiori responded with malevolent cheerfulness. "And so we are! All cynics know that. I thought you were a cynic, Juri."
Juri was a cynic. Otherwise, she would have believed that the sound the wind made as it whistled past her ear was really a boy's voice saying, I grant you the power to bring the world revolution.
"You're right," she said. "I think I'm about to die this very minute."
"You better not," said Shiori. "Lunch is on you today, remember?"
And Juri leaned over and whispered in her ear.