Everything Saionji covets, Utena already has.
"Saionji?" Utena said, one hand at her neck from where her collar was still half-unbuttoned.
All-in-all, Utena thought she could define this as a bad day.
"I wanted to talk to you," Saionji said, his face set in its apparently permanent scowl.
"About what?" Utena asked, suspicious.
Saionji looked to the side, at the door Akio had left the room from, and then back at Utena. "I'd rather we walked somewhere first."
"If you want to say something to me, you can say it in front of Akio, or Himemiya." She accepted that she was partially just trying to be stubborn, but with her company, she thought it quite understandable. "And at least you can tell me what you want to talk about."
Saionji looked to his other side, in almost a parody of surreptitiousness. "The Ends of the World," he finally said.
Utena grabbed the door firmly. "I've already got that one from Touga. Goodbye, Saionji."
"Your prince, then!" Saionji shouted, as Utena started to close the door. When she stopped, he spoke normally again. "Or the prince within you, at any rate."
"Why can't you give straight answers?" Utena said, not letting go of the door.
"The subject doesn't lend itself to them. Ten minutes of your time, Tenjou."
"And how do I know you won't kick me in the stomach, or hit me with the hilt of your sword, or drag me off to Duel again?"
Saionji shrugged, revealing open hands. "I told you. I'm not the man I was."
Which was no kind of reassurance, but slowly, Utena stepped through the door, and closed it behind her. "Ten minutes," she warned him.
He didn't take her to the Arena, standing majestic in the Duelling Forest, with the shining castle above and the stars all around. Instead, he took her to his kendo room, dark and unlit at this time of night, and opened the door to let her in before him. Utena felt absurdly honoured.
"What do you want to talk about, then?" she asked, looking warily over the walls, and Saionji's two swords on their stand.
"I wanted to ask you something," Saionji said, stepping into the room and closing the door behind him. His face seemed made of shadows, almost veiled, and Utena reasoned that she must look much the same to him. "But until now, I didn't know what it was."
"Then just ask it," Utena said. She'd had more than enough of hidden motives and unspoken speeches.
"How did your prince make you noble?" Saionji asked. It was hard to tell in the dark, but Utena thought he was staring at her, his eyes locked with hers.
"Why... do you ask that?" Utena said, on the back foot now. She found herself thinking of their Duels, pushed back by a storm of Saionji's blows, from left and right and left again... but that image didn't hold up. Saionji wasn't attacking her. Saionji was... asking a question, about her /nobility/.
"I saw you fight today," he said. "You gave Anthy the sword of your soul, and she gave it back to you. She blessed it with her spirit, and you protected her with it. You fought..."
Saionji paused, obviously in thought, and reworded his sentence.
"You were Anthy's /prince/. She might not have been your princess, but you were her prince. And I thought..." Saionji stumbled, stopped, started again. It was becoming clear to Utena that these were topics he hadn't thought of before. "I wanted to be her prince like that, once. I wanted to protect her. I wanted to... love her."
"What kind of love do you call that?" Utena snapped, defensive.
"The kind I know/," Saionji snapped back, a perfect riposte. That was more like their Duelling - Utena felt briefly on comfortable ground, which quickly crumbled away again. "I know that when you love someone, you hold onto them so hard they never even think of letting go. I loved Anthy, and that should have made everything work. And then you turned up, and won her from me, and now you treat her like you treat any other of your friends. But she /loves you. And you're her prince."
Utena was too taken aback to comment, to defend that maybe Anthy loved her but not in the way Saionji was thinking, and while she stared at Saionji's shadow-face, he kept talking.
"Anthy loves you, and you're her prince," he said, again, and then paused - and with audible effort, moved on. Was that a hitch in his voice? "And Touga loves you, in the way he knows. And you're the One who will Revolutionise the World, in line for eternity. You have everything I want, and it seems like you never tried for any of it - like you never wanted any of it. And so I hated you, until I realised that it was your nobility that won it all."
No question - a definite hitch. Saionji, so seemingly unbreakable, appeared to be holding back tears.
"So I'm asking you. Please. How... how did your prince, your eternity, your... how did whatever took you from the coffin make you noble?"
Utena took a half-hearted step towards Saionji, and more heard than saw him slip to his knees in perhaps unconscious supplication before her. Another step, and then she placed her hands on the sides of his face, and leant down to kiss away a tear from below his right eye, and then below his left. In the dark, he seemed so vulnerable. Utena had never even thought Saionji could be vulnerable.
"It wasn't my prince that made me noble," Utena whispered, realising that it was true as she said it. "I don't even know if I am, any more. He just told me... to retain my noble spirit as I grew, and that one day we would meet again."
Saionji said nothing, and Utena took her hands away.
"But he called me a gentle child, and thanked me for my tears. Saionji..."
Saionji looked up at her, and some trick of light caught his face, showing Utena his almost childlike expression and the shining tears around his eyes.
"...be gentle again," she managed, and turned towards the door.
"And we will meet again?" came Saionji's voice behind her, plaintive. Utena couldn't tell if he was really asking, or mocking her Prince's words... or using them in his attempt to cultivate whatever he had lost in himself as a child. She didn't turn around.
"Goodbye, Saionji," she said, much softer than before, and closed the door behind her.