Categories > Anime/Manga > Princess Tutu > Princess Tutu and the Secret Six


by paladin313 0 reviews


Category: Princess Tutu - Rating: PG - Genres: Crossover - Published: 2009-05-29 - Updated: 2009-05-30 - 7485 words - Complete



Keeping Poe under wraps, however, was not an easy thing. Yet, the girls did not have to worry too much. During one class time, Poe needed some cleaner for the bathroom, and he found that the girls were out. He did not want to fail in his job, so he took a chance in going to the common closet out in the hallway to find more. The coast was clear, so he went to the closet. When he went in, he also found a mop and bucket, and realized that the floor would need to be mopped when he was done. Thus, he began to fill the mop bucket with a solution for the floor. He was in the middle of this when the RD came up to check up on a closet door in one of the rooms. She heard the water flowing, and went to investigate. When she saw him, she was too terrified to scream. Poe, knowing he was caught, had to think fast. He said, "Um...hello: me new janitor, yeah. Me been sent. They no tell?"

At first, she did not know what to answer, but to see this was not so unusual. After all, she knew of Mr. Katt, and no one knew quite how he came to be, nor was anyone gutsy enough to ask. Thus, to see him should not be such a surprise, at least, that is what she reasoned. She then asked, "Well, what are you here to do, specifically?" gulping down some nerves.

Poe was seeing that his bluff was working, so he followed up with, " clean dorm, fix things, do laundry for girls, straighten rooms when they busy, be gofer, handy bird."

"Well," she said, "If that's the case, then there is a closet door in one of the rooms. Maybe you can help me fix it?"

Poe knew he was not the brightest bulb in the rack, but he figured he was either better than he though, or, she was just plain stupid! Thus, he went with her, and using a bit of common sense, he was able to get the door back on track, and working properly. He may not have been too smart, but at least he had some horse sense. The RD was so pleased, that she put him to work immediately, and found out just how notoriously clean birds ravens actually are. As the girls came back bit by bit, the RD made sure that they were all prepared for Poe, and she described his function. Mary, Rue, and Ahiru were the last of the girls to return, and the RD went to tell them what was going on, as Poe was coming down with Yuma's laundry, and Yuma giving him specific instructions on how she wanted it done. The three of them standing there looked like three ghosts had just entered as the blood seemingly drained from their faces out of their feet. "Oh no!" was all Rue could say. The RD was gushing, "Oh, he is so helpful, and very thorough in cleaning. He seems to thrive in the attention. Look, there he is now with Yuma."

The three of them still looked like pale codfish, staring at the sight. Yuma was finishing the list, "...And the blouse I need you to press for me, because I am going out with a boy from the orchestra for dinner this weekend, and I want to be sure that I have a good outfit ready for the meeting. You're such a pet! Oh, hi girls: you are absolutely going to love this bird."

As Poe reached the bottom, the three of them stood there, looking slightly cross, with one eyebrow raised on each face. All Poe could do was shrug. Rue sauntered up and said, "Well...?"

He whispered, "She catch: me had to think fast. She buy whole thing."

"We'll talk later," was all Rue could say. One thing she knew was in his favor: he was resourceful. He must have fed the RD quite the line, or else he would have been done for. At least this way, he did not have to hide. On the other hand, he now really could not stay in their room, so they had to figure out some better arrangements. Rue walked up to the RD and said, "I...need to confess: he was sent by my father. He figured that the help would be nice, but Iguess this is better."

"So, he doesn't work for the school?" the RD asked.

"Daddy's paying him," said Rue, "But he still needs a place to crash. Can you help?"

"Well, it is a bit odd for this," she answered, "but he has done no harm, and he is helpful, so, I guess its okay. If a place to stay is needed, there is a space in the attic that we had to use for a room once when we had more students than space. I think that may do."

It was then she saw Poe coming back, and she told him, "Honey, if you need sleeping quarters, follow me."

They went up to the attic, and all the fixtures were still there, as well as things being stored. She apologized for the mess, but Poe said it would be no problem, and he could fix it up. Thus, she left it to him, and came back down. By this time, Rue and Mary had gone to their room, and discussed the matter. It seemed now that they had to give some kind of a salary now, considering that he was now actually doing something to earn his keep. Mary pledged some of her allowance to him, but decided only to give it to him when he had a need. News spread over the campus about the new"live-in" in the girl's dorm, but the odd sight soon became commonplace as he was seen around campus quite frequently. Mr. Katt, on the other hand, was thrown into a bit of a battle, as he had to fight instincts to keep from chasing him whenever he saw the bird. Poe was also eager to keep his distance from Mr. Katt as well. In the room, he already had the stored goods set neatly to one corner; save for the shiny baubles that he felt would best decorate the room. The bed he was not sure about, considering that he was used to a roost, and not a soft bed. However, when he stood on it, it felt soft, and when he settled down on it, it felt comfortable. He therefore covered the surface with black down and feathered it just right and there slept.

Ahiru still was the counseling type, as Tutu was more suited for this purpose, rather than being a fighter. She knew now how to use her best assets to be an aid to fighting evil, but still sought to aid people in their lives by guiding their hearts. As she sat in the dayroom, working on her studies, she was joined by Mai and Yuma, as well as Rue and Mary. Only the year before, in the process of gathering heart shards for Mytho, she was even able to aid her two roommates. In the case of Yuma, she saw attempting to "grow up" the year before, and in the process, she threw away a beloved teddy bear, thinking it was something too childish to keep. However, what she did not realize was, a toy like that represents the love of mother and father, and the security that one's parents give. When she came to school, the bear represented this to her in a way she had not realized. Subconsciously, when she threw away the bear, she was throwing away that love and security. The next day, she became quite depressed. She tried to throw it off, but when she saw alittle girl with a teddy bear, she began to bawl uncontrollably. At that precise moment, a 30-foot tall teddy bear began to walk through, and tear up, the local village. The bear had been affected in this way by one of the heart shards that Kraehe had hid in what she thought to be an abandoned toy. It gave the bear life. It wanted to go back to Yuma, not to chastise her for disposing her, but because of the heart shard, wanted to thank her for all the years that she took good care of it. Tutu intervened, stopped the destruction, and took the bear back to Yuma. She gave one mighty leap, and because of the nature of the heart shard, was able to take the leap all the way back to the school, with the bear by its hand. Yumasaw this, realized whom the bear was, and was now terrified. However, she was surprised when Tutu declared to her that the bear only wanted to return to thank her, despite how cruelly she had disposed of it. Yumathen stated why she had done what she had done, and Tutu said that, just because she wanted to grow up, it did not mean that she needed to get rid of the things she loved dearly. She should instead cherish them for all the good memories that those things provided. Tutu was then able to extract the shard, the bear returned to normal, and fell back into Yuma's arms. She gave it a mighty hug, sorry for how selfish she had been, and stood there for probably a good five minutes crying, quite sorry for what she had done, as Mai consoled her. Now the bear that she called Mallon sat in a special spot on her dresser, and she often spoke to it when she had something to reason out that she felt she could not yet share with the others. Moreover, whenever she felt very homesick, Mallon would find his way into her bed from time to time, once again giving her that comfort of parents and home she could not have at that time.

Mai, on the other hand, was affected more directly in the search for the shards. She was indeed a tomboy, and even now did not do much to fight the reputation. However, she did want to shed this, and was seeking to do things to show that she was just as much as alady as any other girl. She was showing potential as a dancer, and this was not to be questioned. However, Mr. Katt, and the other instructors, could not help but notice that she had trouble in demonstrating femininity in her dance. It was hindering her advancement, and she knew it. She began to seek ways to show her femininity, and started by working on her courage to deal with boys as something more than just pals. The Star Festival had taken place that year, and it was a once every four year event during a meteor shower, where sweethearts would exchange something called "star candy," believing that if the other accepted it, it would link the two forever. What she found odd was, when this time came, she found a lot more courage to do something like this than ever before. What she did not realize was that, somehow, Kraehe had planted the heart shard in her that represented "courage," and it gave her an over surge of that emotion. It gave her enough courage to attempt to give some candy to Fakir. This, he politely refused, and it left her shattered and confused. She was now at an age where she no longer liked how people perceived her, and it hurt that aboy she thought she liked turned her down. She ran off to the back woods to sort out her thoughts, as many students did. However, Ahiru, when she saw her pass, had her original pendant glow, indicating a piece of Mytho's heart somewhere near. She followed the pendant until it led her right to Mai. She changed into Tutu, and invited Mai to dance. It was then that she revealed how she felt about her tomboy reputation, and wanted to be rid of it. She then declared that she had seen Fakir's powerful dancing, and she felt it would be wonderful to dance with him one day. It gave her courage, and gave her enough courage to present the candy. However, she then realized, as they danced, that all Fakir was, was a means to an end. What she really was attempting was to see if she had enough courage to even do this much. Once she realized that she had courage, it was okay if he said, "No." As a result, she came to grips with the emotion, and that allowed Tutu to extract the shard. Mai passed out as a result, but Tutu laid her safely on a bench in the school for her to sleep off the effects of the extraction. Yumafound her, and was quite surprised at the change in Mai. However, this still did not shake off the tomboy reputation, nor did it seem to quell that kind of behavior all that much. This was something that Mary wanted to help her with, and sought opportunities to fix things.

Ahiru was constantly on the lookout for those who had those kinds of problems, and would take opportunity to aid them where she could. Her attention was now turned on a second year student from Francenamed Nana. She was eleven years old, and had been advanced to the beginner course just the year before. At that time, she actually helped Ahiru by inadvertently teaching her about visualization techniques. Nana very much admired Rue, being she was the best female dancer in the class, and she considered her quite pretty: something that she hoped she could be one day. She therefore watched her closely, imitating what she knew was within her skill, and visualizing herself dancing alongside Rue, and seeing herself as the mature ballerina she sought to be one day. Ahiru then learned that, to help herself, all she had to do was remember what she had done as Tutu, and keep that in mind as she danced. At first, this was good for Nana, as having a role model to inspire one is a good thing to have. It keeps one aiming at higher goals. By the end of the year, she had advanced in her skills, and she began to practice over the summer, hoping to make the intermediate class. However, during tryouts, she was told that she had indeed come a long way; however, she needed some more time to season up before they advanced her. They told her not to lose heart, and to keep up the hard work. If she could do that, then she may have the chance in the second semester to try again. Sadly, this did not sit well with Nana, in that, she was just sure that she was good enough, and was shattered to find that they felt she needed more work. Now Nana was not her perky self, and she seemed to watch Rue even more closely. This caused her to be distracted, bringing the wrath of Mr. Katt down on her, as well as threats of marriage. For Mr. Katt, he was confused that such a bright and hard working student was staring to slip backwards in her work. What was really happening was that she was no longer dancing as herself, but was trying to dance exactly like Rue, believing that, if she could do it precisely as her, she could go higher. This was hurting her, in that, she was trying things that she was just not physically able yet to do. Proverbially, she was trying to run before she had learned how to walk. She was becoming more and more depressed as she went. This began to weigh down on Ahiru, and she felt that she might have to intervene at some point. She thus began to observe her as closely as she could.

As Ahiru watched her, she began to see that she really did not have many friends. This was surprising, considering how much of an extrovert that she was. Then again, Ahiru remembered the treatment she once had received at the hands of her classmates. Soon, they were teasing her about her dancing, and were beginning to ride her hard. As the days passed, she began to turn more and more on herself. It got worse when a threat to return her to the basics course was made. She had to do something. After practice, she caught up with Nana on the way to the classroom phase of the class, and asked her how she was doing. Nana wanted to tell her to go away, but since this was Ahiru-one of the few girls that showed any concern about her-she said, "Well, I believe you Americans say, 'Its going.'"

"Why so glum, chum?" asked Ahiru.

"Everything is going wrong for me," she sobbed, "I try to do better, but I cannot. No one wants to help me."

"But you have done so well up to now," said Ahiru, "I would think you already know what to do."

"No, there has to be something else," she responded earnestly, "Look at Rue: there is something she has to be doing to do what she does."

"Have you asked her?" asked Ahiru.

"She just said, 'I don't know: practice maybe?' I then said that there has to be some secret, but she just smiled and said, 'Honey, I've watched you, and it seems you have the secret. You just seemed to let it slip somehow. But you can get it back: just keep working, you'll get it.'"

"That would encourage me," said Ahiru, "I mean, if I knew the one that I admired said she was watching me, it would make me feel good, because I know that she cared."

"But she didn't help me!" she snapped.

"But she did," answeredAhiru, "Because she told you that you already have it together, you just have to refine it. Believe it or not, I owe you some thanks, because you encouraged me last year, and gave me something which helped me go further."

Nana was surprised. "I really did that?" she now asked, quite curiously.

"Sure you did!" Ahiru said smiling, "And, what it was that you gave me was that I had to find my own dance, and do so by visualizing myself as what I can be. That's what you did with Rue, wasn't it?"

"But I still do," she responded.

"Do you," asked Ahiru, "because, if you did, I think that you wouldn't be slipping back."

"But I try to do all that she does,"reasoned Nana.

"Nana, please don't take this wrong,"Ahiru said carefully, "but you cannot be her. You can only be Nana. I could not do well once, because I didn't know who I was. Then, I had found myself, and thanks some to you, and I did so much better."

"Don't tell me that," she said, "I know Ican be just like her."

With that, she snuffed, and walked ahead of Ahiru to the classroom. She then stopped, and said, "You're just like the others: you don't care!" and stamped off. What Ahiru did not realize was that Nana was slipping into depression, which can cause someone to think that the whole world is against him or her. She did not know this, but she did have enough wherewithalsto know that she had to be watched carefully.

Later on, Nana came to apologize to Ahiru for her attitude. She knew that Ahiru was only trying to help, and said that she was really the only friend she had. She wished she had a group of people, as Ahiru had to be with, and a couple of friends like Mai and Yuma. She then said that this would never happen. She then asked Ahiru if she ever wished she could just fly away, and that she often wished this and this had been more often than before. When Ahiru went back to her room, she mentioned this to her roommates, and asked if there were any way that Nana could hang out with them sometimes. "Why," asked Mai, "What's the problem?"

"I just think she needs some friends to hang out with," answered Ahiru.

"Well, she is a bit young, isn't she,"asked Yuma.

"Not that young," exclaimed Ahiru, with acurious look on her face, "She's only about a year and a half or so behind us."

"She doesn't seem like she wants to be with anyone," added Mai.

"I'm telling you, this is not her normal self," responded Ahiru, "She's normally an extrovert."

"Then why's she acting the way's she's been?" asked Mai.

Yumathought for a moment, paused as if she was getting an epiphany, and then said,"I think we may be seeing a case of depression," said Yuma,"and that is not good at all."

"How would we know?" asked Ahiru.

"Tell me, love: has she spoken of hating life?"

"In a sense, though not directly."

"Does she feel the world is against her?"

"It seems that she's saying this, talking about having no real friends, being laughed at when she messes up, that kind of thing."

"Well, we already know that she has gone from being extroverted to being introverted. That is a major change in behavior. She has also lost her zeal in practices, so we know that this is affecting things. Has she spoken about not wanting to continue in life?"

"Well, she did ask me if I ever felt like wanting to just fly away."

"This seems like depression to me."

Mai interrupted, "Hold on: when did you become Sigmund Freud?"

"Well, Mai dear," Yuma said, in a knowing fashion, "All those "Seventeen" magazines that you poke fun at me about reading, well, they have had articles about depression and suicide in them, and the signs to look out for. Looks like those magazines aren't so silly now, are they?"

Ahiru jumped right in, and said, "Hey, wait a minute? What do you mean'suicide'?"

"When you speak of depression," Yumainterjected, "this is something that cannot be left out of the mix. It has to be considered."

"Wow," said Ahiru, "I'm gonna have to tell someone about this."

"Be careful, darling," said Yuma,"because if Nana finds out that you said something, she may think you are trying to betray her, and she may then shut you out. If that happens, you won't be able to know when she is going to try one thing or another. You need to be discreet about something like that. Don't let on that it was you that said something."

With that, she made the determination that she would tell Mr. Katt before class started. He would be there to advise the six on their upcoming performance in the variety show, and that would be the best time for it. Yumathen added one more thing, "There is one thing you need to watch for. If she suddenly seems okay, and acts all content, that is a clear warning sign. It could be that she may have resolved her issues in her heart, and all is okay. However, it can also mean that she has settled on a decision about living that is a choice to die. In either case, the same contented state will happen. If that is the case, you need to stay with her and never let her out of your sight. The moment you do, she may act on her intentions, and that can spell disaster. One way to know if she made a choice for death is if she also accompanies her contented state by giving away things that she considers dear to her-prized possessions, her clothes, jewels, things of that nature."

"If what you have said is true, and she does recover, would not that mean that we should include her in our activities, just to make sure that she is not going to relapse?" asked Ahiru.

"Yes, that's true," said Yuma,"but first, we have to help her get out of this state."

The next day, she stated all this to Mr. Katt, and he had to agree that this explained her odd behavior. He then said, "Let me address the class today, I think I can get a reaction out of her in the right way, and give advice to the whole class at the same time."

After basics warm-ups, instead of breaking up, he had everyone sit in a semi-circle, and began his lesson. Ahiru made sure to sit by Nana, smiled, said,"Hi," and gave her a sisterly hug. Nana smiled a weak grin, but still looked sad. At that, Mr. Katt began, "Today, I want to talk about finding your style. What I mean by that is this: every one of us has their own unique way of approaching ballet. Yes, doing the dance steps should be the same for everyone. However, each one of us has their own unique way of expressing themselves as they do them. How we feel at that time, what we are thinking, what has been going on in our lives, and so forth, will always affect our attack executing the moves, as well as certain aspects of our personalities. This will shape our approach to things. If we are focused, confident in our dance, confident in ourselves, love ourselves, who it is that we are will come out in our dance, and then that will be our styles. Let me demonstrate. Fakir, Mytho, would you two please come forward."

They stepped up, and then Mr. Katt whispered into each of their ears a series of moves to do, the same moves, and did not let the other know what he had told him. He then had the piano player play some music, and he told Mytho to execute the moves while Fakir closed his eyes. Then He had Fakir do them. They were the same moves, and they were all executed by both boys sharply, and correctly. However, the personalities of both boys came out, and made each dance seem unique, although they both did the same moves. Mytho's dance was graceful and fluid. Fakir's had some snap and aggression to it, but it took nothing away from the moves, and actually accented the moves well. At that, Mr. Katt continued, "As you can see, each one of these boys have their own way of attacking the dance. No matter how slow or fast the cadenza is, you will see the same kind of attack to the steps. Thank you, boys."

They took their seats, and Ahiru said,"Wow, it almost seemed like two different dances, didn't it, Nana?"

"I guess so," she said, dejectedly, "But their both so good."

"But I don't think that's Mr. Katt's point," said Ahiru. Mr. Katt continued,"The biggest mistake any of us can make is to try to be someone that we are not. In other words, we cannot find our style by imitating another. We can be inspired, but we have to be ourselves. I remember I time that I was just a young kitten, and I had a chance to meet the great Baryshnikov. He visited our class, and I was so fascinated by what he did, that, when he stuck around to watch our class, I tried to dance the way he did. However, he took me aside, and explained all of this to me. He was flattered that I would want to model myself after him, but I had to do it my way. Once he told me that, it started me on a long search for myself as Igrew up. Yet, it was a fulfilling journey as I advanced in my dance. When I found myself, and was at peace with that cat, I was able to be the dancer Iam now. No one can be me, but I cannot be you. Thus, start that journey now, if you have not already. And remember: I, or any of the instructors here will be more than willing to listen to you if you have something personal you want to talk about, problems, if you need help, or just a shoulder to cry on. With that, let's get to work."

They started to break up, but, for a moment, Nana just stood there, with a tear welling up. Ahiru said, "Mrs. Wilkins is waiting for you, Nana."

However, Nana hissed,""

Ahiru hung her head and sighed. She couldn't lie, because she knew that this would make matters worse. "Nana," Ahiru said, "I just saw you so sad that I didn't know what to say or do. I wanted to fix it..."

"You should have said nothing!" snapped Nana.

Ahiru knew that she had to be firm at this point, and said, "Nana, if I didn't care, I would have said nothing! That's not fair! If I were having the same problems, wouldn't have you said something?"

Nana wanted to say, "No," but she knew that it would be a futile thing to be mad. Ahiru was right. "I'm sorry,"said Nana, "But now, everyone's going to think I'm crazy. I want to die!"

With that, she began to cry, and ran out of the room to gather herself. Another instructor took over Mrs. Wilkins' class while she went out to try to console Nana. However, Ahiru was rattled by Nana stating, "I want to die," because she now wondered if she had been pushed over the edge.

Ahiru, at this point, decided not to let Nana out of her sight as much as possible. All seemed as well as could have been expected, though she was still the moping, sad self that she had become. Then, about three days later, Nana seemed to perk up. It seemed that everything was fine. Ahiru remembered what Yumahad said, and kept an even closer watch on her. However, she had not given anything away, and it seemed that everything was fine. Ahiru said, "Well, this is quite a pleasure! What's the occasion?"

Nana answered, "I've had a few days to think it over, and I know what I need to do. After today, it will be no problem at all. No one's ever going to bother me again!"

To Ahiru, that could mean anything. However, there were not the signs that one would associate with suicide, so she let it go, hoping that things will come to the better. Yet, in class, Nana did her drills, and did them correctly, but they were quite mechanical. Her teachers, on the other hand, thought nothing of it. Since she was at least coming around and not limping her way through things, it was improvement that they did not want to discourage. Still, Ahiru though it weird that someone that had come to grips with things was doing what it took to just get through the class, yet doing just enough to throw people off on what her problems really were. After classes that day, Ahiru had lost track of Nana, and grew concerned. When she got back to the dorm, everyone was abuzz about how Nana was giving all these gifts to the girls of the dorm. Now Ahiru was terrified. She rushed upstairs up to her room, and found her roommates. "Yuma!"Ahiru shouted, "When was the last time you saw Nana?"

"I'm glad you're here!" said Yuma,"I can't find her anywhere!"

"Yuma,"said Ahiru, "You need to find all the girls who got something from Nana and tell them to bring all those things to her room. Explain why. I think I know where she is going, and I'm going to try to catch her. My God, I hope I'm in time!"

She sprinted out of her room when she bumped into Poe. "Poe!" she exclaimed,"I'm glad I found you! Nana's in trouble! I need you to fly out to the back woods in direction of the cliff back there. If you see Nana, stall her as long as you can. Princess Tutu will be along soon enough."

Poe grew excited, and quickly complied. Meanwhile, Ahiru ran out of the dorm and out of the campus towards the direction of the backwoods. There was no time to call the others. She would have to handle this herself. She rushed on as she made her transformation.

There was a blank expression on the face of Nana as she approached the cliff face. This was a spot that the landscape artists loved to come and paint for their classes. This cliff also happened to be about 300 feet high, and a perfect spot for jumpers. She was about 100 yards away when Poe arrived. She jumped from the sudden arrival of the large bird, and Poe quickly said, "No, No: is okay! Is me, Poe. Why you walk alone? Woods scary alone. Want friend to walk, yes?"

"Oh, Poe," she said beginning to cry, "I wish I could be you."

"Why?" he asked.

"You're so free," she said, "No one picks on you. You don't have to please anyone. You don't have people telling you what's wrong with you. You can fly away whenever you want."

She began to walk again, and Poe kept in front of her, trying to slow her down, "Oh, me like to fly. Me wish I could help. Me not know if me can carry."

"Don't worry," said Nana, "I'm going to fly, and never land again. I'm going away."

"No," said Poe, "No go. You do pretty dance. You nice to Poe: Poe's friend! Me miss you lots!"

She regained her blank face, and her resolve, and said coldly, "I have no friends. No one will care if I am gone."

She then shouldered her way past Poe, but Poe sensed something bad. She kept approaching the cliff, and he knew well that she couldn't fly. He then grabbed her, having a good idea of what he was trying to prevent. "Please,"he pleaded, "No fight! You fall: be hurt lots. Me cry."

She was now struggling, and they were now getting quite close to the edge. "Let me go!" she protested, and fought his grip. However, Tutu was not far away, and heard the fight. She got into position, and prepared to act. Nana finally broke loose from Poe's grip, and charged straight for the ledge. "NO!" screamed Poe, as she did the grand jette off the cliff...right into Tutu's astral barque. "Nana, you cannot fly like that: you need help."

She wheeled around to see Princess Tutu at the helm, beaming and smiling. Nana panicked, realizing that things were not going how she had planned. She tried to jump from the barque, but vines suddenly rose up and pulled her down. "Nana: that is not going to solve anything. I am going to have to restrain you while we talk. Let us sail."

With that, they began to pull from the cliff face to ride over the countryside. Poe thought it looked like fun, so he decided to join them. "Whee," said Poe, "This fun, yes?" trying to cheer up Nana. Nana did not seem very interested in talking at that point, as she now looked down at her lap at the vines holding down her legs on the seat where she sat. At first, she tried to pull them off, but then gave up when she discovered that it was a useless gesture. She was completely dejected, staring blankly at her legs. "What is so bad in life that you think you have to do this?" asked Tutu. Nana muttered, "I'm a failure at everything. I can't even kill myself right!"

She then began to bawl and wail. "Why!" she screamed, "Why was I even born? No one cares! I can't do anything right! I want to die!"

Tutu realized that she was now blocking, and she then knew that she would have to get inside her heart to bring a solution. She stood up, gestured, and put her hand out. "No," said Nana, "I'll just mess up. I can't dance."

"This is a hard case," thought Tutu, "I'm going to have to take a drastic move."

"Nana, look at me," she said. At that, she lifted up the mask and feather ring, and then undid the bun, to let her hair down. She then took a few flowers, and tied her hair back. "Now do you recognize me?"

Nana's jaw practically hit the deck. She had heard stories about Princess Tutu, and had seen her picture in the paper. She had no clue that Tutu would even care about this. Now, standing before here, was a woman that looked just like Ahiru, but older. It was as if Ahiru had aged four or five years, and stood before her. "A...Ahiru?" she asked, stunned.

"No," Tutu answered, "..., and yes. Let us just say that I am the essence of what is inside Ahiru: what is really her, and what drives her to go on with life. Now, I want to deal with you. I have been watching you for some time, and Isee a great person destroying herself with things that really do not matter in the end. You have let these things get to you so much you cannot even see clearly enough to see all the good things around you, and the people that love you dearly. Know that I care, and know that Poe cares, because, if we did not, would we have tried to stop you, and would I have risked all by revealing who I truly am just to help you? Stop kicking yourself, and know that you can have so much more."

With that, the vines released their grip, as Tutu said, "I do not think those are needed now," as she extended her hand again. "Please?" she said, kindly, and almost in a pleading but coaxing way. At this, Nana slowly walked forward and took her hand, and the link was made. Poe flew closely, and watched the beautiful dance they were doing, but was also careful to watch where he was going. Soon, he just landed on the deck, lest he lose them, or run into something. Meanwhile, the conversation ensued. Tutu started with, "What is it that makes you so sad?"

"I want to dance like Rue, and it is so hard," she responded.

"Is that the real reason, or is there something greater?" asked Tutu.

"I just want to do well," she reasoned.

"Do you want to do well for the sake of that," asked Tutu, "or is there something that you seek for doing so well?"

Nana had yet been trying to hide her reasons, but being linked in this fashion made it impossible for her to conceal things anymore. Tutu then asked, "I sense that you want so much out of class. I sense you have done a lot of hard work. Why?"

Nana still danced, and spoke, but externally, tears began streaming down her face without actually making asound. Internally, she was semi-calm, but externally, her subconscious was causing her to react as if the whole thing were taking place as if they were sitting and talking. Nana finally confessed, "I tried for the intermediate class, and I failed. I worked so hard all summer, and use Rue as an inspiration to help me as Idanced..."

"As youdanced," interrupted Tutu, "and I think that is the difference between then and now."

Nana stopped in an arabesque, as Tutu held up her arm and leg, and looked at Tutu. No words were yet being said, but mentally Nana said in a way that matched the wonder in her face at that moment, "I don't understand: I though that this was what I have been doing?"

Ignoring the question, Tutu asked, "Do you dance like yourself as Rue inspires you, try to dance like Rue, or want to be Rue?"

The dance continued, and Nana said, "I...oh, forgive me please; I have been such a fool!"

"Its okay, Nana, but you must say it, for if you hold back, you will never get over things."

Nana shouted mentally, "I'm so jealous of Rue! She makes it so easy! I want to be just like her!"

"Oh Nana!" said Tutu, "You cannot be Rue! You have to be yourself, and find your own ballet."

"I don't know what that is," sobbed Nana.

"It took her work to find her ballet,"responded Tutu, "and that involved finding herself. Yet, know this: we have known each other for quite some time, and I have seen her in times before she was en Pointe, and trying to advance. It took her a long time, but she found it. What you are doing is trying to find yourself in another person, and that is dangerous. Many a performer has ruined their careers trying to live up to a standard that belonged exclusively to the one they admired. You do not want to be Rue as much as you think that, if you can copy everything she does at her level, you will advance quicker, because you think that you will have found some kind of shortcut or secret to advancing. I tell you, you are never going to do it until you go through what it took her to get to where she is, because it took many hours of practice, sweat, sore muscles, and harsh criticism from Mr. Katt, (which included many threats of marriage,)to get to where she is at. Furthermore, you doing this kind of work, I think, would have not been a problem for you if you had not failed the test this year. But, remember how they told you that, if you kept it up, you could go to the next level next semester? What it was that got you to where you are you must get back, so that can happen. Also, remember that, though there are those that laugh at you for your errors, remember that they are only jealous of your hard work and your willingness to do what it takes to go further, and they jump on any mistake you make to make themselves feel better about their lack as compared to what you have. Please, do not drop to this level with Rue, and know that there are others around you that do want you to do well, and that includes both me, and Rue. Take the time, and I am sure that you will make friends, and even be the inspiration for someone else, as Rue was for you. We love you so, Nana."

At this the dance ended, Tutu was seated again, but now Nana was on her knees, resting her head and arms on Tutu's lap, softly sobbing, knowing that it was alright to fail, because, in failure, we learn what caused us to fail, and learn how not to do it again. She also sobbed for joy that she now knew that she was loved. Poe even joined in as he stroked her head, cooing to her, "Is okay. We love you. You good girl."

Tutu smiled, and stroked Poe's head. Then Tutu put the mask and the feather head ring back on and said, "Now, let us get you back. There is a surprise awaiting you."

The barque landed, and let her off, and Tutu said, "This is our little secret. Please, mention this to no one, and you must tell no one who I am."

Nana promised as Tutu took off, Poe going with her. Nana returned to the dorm with a new resolve to find herself, and her own ballet. By the time she got back, Ahiru had already returned, and winked at her as she entered the dorm. Suddenly, many of the girls caught her in agroup hug, and said that they all cared about her. She then went to her room, and was happily surprised to see all her things on her bed, neatly folded and arranged, with aphotograph set on top. She picked it up, and it was a photo of Mai, Ahiru, and Yumathat had been taken at an amusement park on the last day of school celebration. However, there was a silhouette set between Yumaand Ahiru drawn on with marker, and a caption above it, which said, "This spot reserved for our friend Nana."

When she saw this, she started to cry all over again, except this time, it was tears of joy, as she flopped onto her back, hugging the picture. Yes, life would be better, because she would find herself, and now had friends to help her do it.

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