Episode 4: Shadows Of The Past – Part I

"Are you sure that you can get out of bed already?" Michiru asked, slight doubt in her voice. Haruka gave her a short glance and nodded. "Yeah. My legs are healed, as well as that drill hole…I'm perfectly fine." The blonde then replied while she already was halfway out of the bed, putting the covers aside. When she put weight on her right leg though, she suddenly groaned in pain and grabbed the spot where the Black Wolf had used his drill two months ago. "Haruka!" Michiru cried out, shocked, grabbing the blondes shoulders worried. "Are you okay?" Haruka nodded, the expression of pain vanishing from her eyes while she let go of her leg. "Yes, I'm fine. Don't worry." She then spoke, standing up without any problems this time. Michiru shot her another worried look despite what her tall partner had said, then sighed and nodded. "Fine, if you say so…I guess I'll just have to trust you." The last words were accompanied with a small wink, causing Haruka to frown at her partner. "Yeah." She finally spoke, not realizing what Michiru intended to say. Not bothering to look at the aqua haired girl once more, Haruka got out of her pyjama's and changed into her usual black attire before she looked at Michiru once more. "I'll be right back." The blonde mumbled, returning to her usual cold behaviour without even noticing it. During the two months she had been forced to spend in bed, Michiru and her had spent a lot of time together; Michiru refused to go on missions with anyone else than Haruka, and so Makoto and Rei had taken most of the cases Special Unit 2 had received. Thanks to the amounts of time the two women had spent together, they had grown a little closer, and Haruka had slightly opened herself up to Michiru; still, the aqua haired girl had been unable to find out why Haruka was always in such a bad mood, but at least the blonde had become more friendly around her. And now it seemed as if all of that was forgotten…Michiru let out a small sigh and sat down on the bed Haruka had been lying in, staring up at the ceiling. Haruka…why? Why are you so determined to keep me from getting closer to you? And why don't you notice the signals I send out all the time? God, I love you so much…Letting out another sigh, Michiru finally rose from the bed again and ran one hand through her long aqua coloured locks before she left the room too, gently closing the door behind her.

Five minutes after she had left the room, Michiru encountered Usagi on the hallway while she was on her way to her apartment. "Michiru!" the cheerful blonde called out, waving over to the aqua haired girl, who increased her speed until she met up with her boss. "Do you have any idea where Haruka is?" Usagi now asked, sounding slightly impatient. "I checked the room in the medical ward, but she's not there anymore…" "Yeah, she got out of bed already…what do you need from her?" the aqua haired girl demanded to know, her curiosity getting the better of her. Usagi frowned and looked at her colleague before she replied: "There's someone at the door who wants to talk to her." Michirus eyebrows went up while she asked: "Someone who wants to talk to her? A friend, or what?" Usagi shrugged and leaned against the wall, stuffing her hands in the pockets of her blue jeans. "I don't know if he's a friend of her…but he's from the army, that's for sure. He's wearing a uniform." Michiru frowned at that, wondering if Haruka really wanted to see someone from the army. She knew that the blonde had been a soldier before she had joined Special Unit 2, but for some reason she had left the army, and no one of her colleagues knew why she had done that. "Well", Michiru now spoke, looking at her boss again, "I'll try to find her. She's probably at her favourite window again, smoking." Usagi nodded and smiled at the aqua haired woman. "Send her to my office please as soon as you found her." She then begged, and Michiru agreed on that before she walked off.

"Haruka! There you are!" Michiru called out cheerfully as soon as she had spotted the blonde, who was sitting on the window sill and – of course – smoking. "What do you want." Haruka grumbled in response, threw her cigarette out of the window and closed it. "Usagi asked me to send you to her office." Michiru replied, trying hard to ignore the hard tone Haruka had spoken with. "She says that somebody is there waiting for you." The ex-commando's eyebrows shot up until they almost met her hairline. "Somebody waiting for me, eh." She then repeated before letting out a sigh and getting off the window sill. "Fine. See you later." With that, she walked off, leaving Michiru behind alone once more.

Usagi and her guest both looked up when the door of the cheerful blonde's office opened and Haruka entered, looking slightly impatient. Her expression changed from impatience to pure anger though when she saw who was sitting in the chair that stood in front of Usagi's desk. "What are you doing here?" she clenched out between gritted teeth, her voice trembling with rage. The man jumped up from the chair and rose his hands. "Haruka, please, calm down…" he started, but before Usagi or he had a chance to say more, Haruka had moved up to him, grabbed his throat and held him up against the wall, glaring at him with so much hate that her eyes nearly seemed to blaze with fire. "Haruka!" Usagi finally managed to cry out, her voice clearly showing her shock. "What are you doing?! Let go of him!" Ignoring her, the blonde kept glaring at the soldier – or more likely, colonel, like the insignias on his uniform showed – and asked: "What do you want?" "I…I need your help." The colonel finally blurted out, though the steel-like grip around his throat made it hard to speak. "My help?" Haruka just snorted at that, but finally let go of him again. "What could you need my help for?" Usagi slowly stepped back, watching the two with anxiety, fearing that Haruka could attack the poor guy again any second. The colonel coughed and straightened his tie, looking at Haruka with slight fear written over his face. "I guess you still remember Hiroshi…?" Much to Usagi's surprise, a hurt look appeared on Harukas face for one second, only to be replaced with the well-known coldness immediately. "How could I forget him." She replied, stuffing her hands into the pockets of her black pants. "What's wrong with him?" she then asked, looking at the colonel once more. "He went crazy." The elder man softly replied, his eyes meeting Harukas for the first time ever since they had started talking. "Oh, you mean he wasn't before?" Haruka asked, mock interest in her voice, and suddenly, the colonel stepped forward and punched her. Hard. The blonde ex-commando stumbled backwards in shock, blood running from her mouth while the colonel shouted at her: "Snap out of your I'm-a-poor-victim attitude for two minutes and listen to me!" Haruka just kept staring at him for a few more moments, then her eyes clouded over with pure anger and hate. Letting out a low growl, the blonde literally jumped the colonel, her fingers closing around his collar, lifting him from the ground and smashing him against the wall. "Do you want to say that I'm anything else than a victim?" she snarled, pressing the words out between clenched teeth. "Haruka!" Usagi cried out. "Put him down!" Haruka just shot her one glare, and that was enough to make her fall silent again. Growling once more, the blonde returned her gaze to the colonel, who looked down at her with fear in his eyes. "I was forced to leave the army." Haruka now spoke, articulating the words slowly as if she was speaking to a five year old. "Hiroshi pulled some nasty trick on me, and I was forced to leave the army because of what I am!" "You…you were forced to leave because you failed the raid test." The colonel stammered in return, trying to keep his voice steady. No one of the three in Usagi's office noticed how the door opened and Michiru poked her head in, shocked at what she saw. What she heard next though shocked her even more. "I did not fail the raid test." Haruka spoke on, still talking slowly. "Hiroshi faked the result because he found out that I'm homosexual!" The last three words were screamed out loud enough to make the walls shake, and the colonels eyes widened visibly at that. "Haruka, that…that can't be true…" he mumbled, while the tight grip around his collar slowly loosened and he started to feel the ground underneath his feet again. "Homosexuality…was never a problem for the army…" he continued, sounding as if he was in a daze. "It was for Hiroshi." Haruka softly replied before her eyes met those of the colonel, capturing them. "And now ask me again if I want to help you." She then added, the anger vanishing from her eyes once more to be replaced with such deep sadness that it almost seemed to pain her physically. Before anyone of the other three – Michiru had sneaked in completely without anyone noticing – had a chance to react, the blonde had turned around and stomped out of the room, slamming the door close behind her. After a few moments of standing there frozen, Michiru shot one last glance at the colonel and Usagi before she hurried out of the room too, hoping that she would find Haruka in the huge building before the blonde had a chance to run off.

Half an hour later, Michiru had given up on finding her blonde partner. She just passed the gym, sighing with worry for the blonde, when she heard suspicious beating sounds from behind the door that led into the training room. Stopping, Michiru checked the schedule that was pinned to the notice board, frowning when she read that the gym was supposed to be empty now. Slowly, the aqua haired girl opened the door, only to find herself looking at Harukas back, who kept hitting the punching ball repeatedly. Every time her fist met the rough leather of the ball, bright red spots were left behind. Michirus eyes widened when she realized that it was blood; Haruka probably had hit the wall again before she had moved over to the punching ball. "Haruka! Haruka, stop!" the aqua haired girl cried out, running up to the blonde and grabbing her hand before she hit the ball once more. The ex-commandos knuckles were covered in blood, the red liquid running down over the back of her hand. "Stop." She softly repeated, gently reaching out with her free hand to cup Harukas cheek and make the blonde look at her. "Leave me alone." Haruka spoke, her voice hoarse and slightly shaking. "No, I won't." Michiru replied, gently squeezing Harukas hand. "Someone needs to tend to those knuckles of yours." "No need to." The blonde replied, pulling her hand out of Michirus grasp. "Then let me tend to your soul." Michiru softly spoke, moving even closer to the blonde and putting a gentle hand on her shoulder. Haruka gave her an unsure look, not knowing what to expect next. "I heard what you said to the colonel in Usagi's office." The aqua haired girl now continued, her eyes never leaving those of the blonde. "Why you were forced to leave the army." She paused for a moment before she continued, her next words hitting closer to the truth than Haruka liked it. "You hate yourself because of what you are, Haruka, right? That's why you are always in such a bad mood. But let me tell you one thing, there's no reason to hate yourself just because for being homosexual. It's okay. And…" "What do you know?" Haruka suddenly interrupted her, the old anger returning to her voice. "You know nothing! The fact that I was born to be a fucking dyke ruined my career in the army…all my life, I never wanted to be anything else than a commando, and I just when I had reached that goal…they found out what I am, and forced me to leave for it!" "And hating yourself and everyone around you will help you to solve that problem, right?" Michiru shot back, causing Haruka to shut up for a few moments. The aqua haired girl of course took the chance given and quickly continued speaking. "Maybe they made you leave the army because you are gay. I understand your hurt and anger about that, because it was just wrong. But it's no reason to throw away your life!" "I didn't throw away my life." Haruka mumbled, for the first time since their talk had started not snapping at the smaller woman. "Not yet." Michiru softly replied. "But if you keep going on like that – hating yourself for what you are – you can as well kill yourself. Think about what I said." With that, she turned around and left the room, Haruka staring after her dumbfounded.

Three heads – the colonel's, Usagi's and Michiru's – rose when the door to Usagi's office opened and Haruka slowly walked in, looking at Michiru for a moment before her eyes fell on the colonel again. "Tell me what you need." She then spoke, sitting down in front of the man. The colonel gave a relieved sigh, looking at the blonde thankfully. "As I told you before", he then started, leaning back in his seat, "Hiroshi went crazy. He managed to get almost all of his commando soldiers on his side – you know how loyal all of them are, no matter how crazy the mission is they get – and…killed off most people at the army base in one night." "What?" Haruka cried out, obviously shocked at that. "How's that possible?" "They are commando soldiers." The colonel softly replied. "And if forty commandos decide to go on a killing spree, no one notices…until it's too late. They learned how to kill silently – you learned that too, Haruka, and know what I'm talking about – and they were quick." "But…everyone on the army base? That's impossible! There must have been two- or three hundred people…" "Twohundredandfiftyone." The colonel blurted out, causing the other three in the room to gasp. "And they killed them all…within one night. And now they locked themselves up in the army base, refusing to come out…" "But how did you escape?" Michiru asked, frowning. "If they killed everyone that night…why not you?" "I wasn't at the base." The colonel replied softly, looking down on the polished tips of his shoes. "I had my free weekend and was at my home, with my wife and son…when it happened." "I see." Haruka mumbled thoughtfully, lightning a cigarette – totally ignoring Usagi's protest. "But what do you need my help for?" "You were a commando too, Haruka." The colonel replied, his gaze meeting the one of the blonde. "You are the only one who can get in there without being noticed…you know how they think, learned what they learned and have all of their skills. If anyone can stop Hiroshi, it's you." "I don't know." Haruka softly replied, taking another deep drag from her cigarette and blowing a cloud of smoke towards the ceiling. "It's been such a long time that I had to use those commando skills…I don't know if I'm still as good as I used to be." "You have to be!" the colonel shot back, leaning forward in his chair. "If you fail…Hiroshi and his men will get what they want." "And that would be?" Michiru now piped in, causing the colonel and Haruka to look at her – the colonel slightly annoyed for interrupting him, Haruka with a look that was hard to describe; it seemed to be a mixture of liking and hate at the same time. "A state reigned by military forces. And if no one stops him, he will get that." The colonel finally replied, his gaze immediately returning to Haruka. "Please, you have to help us!" he nearly begged, almost going down on his knees. Haruka closed her eyes for a second, obviously considering what the colonel wanted her to do. Usagi and Michiru eyed her warily, not sure of what to expect next. Finally, Haruka opened her eyes again, looking at the colonel seriously. "I will help you." She slowly spoke, and the elder man nearly jumped up and kissed her feet. "Under one condition." She then added. The colonel looked up slightly worried, hoping that Haruka wouldn't ask for the moon and the stars as payment. "I can take Michiru with me." The blonde now spoke, in her slow tone again. "And if I succeed, I will get my rank as commando soldier back." "You want to go back into the army?!" Michiru cried out, obviously shocked at that. Haruka looked at her, a slight lopsided smile on her face. "No, Michiru…I just want my rank back. I got dishonoured when they kicked me out, so I have no rank now…and I want that to be changed." Finally, the colonel nodded. "Alright. Take the girl with you, and if you succeed, you will get your rank back…and maybe even a higher one than before. Deal?" Haruka gave him a slight grin and shook his outstretched hand. "Deal."

After Haruka and the colonel had set their deal, Haruka and Michiru got up and left the room, with the intention to head over to Amy's lab and get her newest weapons for the job. The two women walked next to each other in silence for a while, then Michiru finally spoke up. "Haruka…?"  "Yes?" the blonde asked, looking down at the smaller woman. "Are…are you mad at me for what I said in the gym?" the aqua haired girl softly continued, fearing what the answer might be. "If I was mad at you, do you think I would have asked to take you on the mission with me?" Haruka asked back, stopping dead in her tracks, causing Michiru to stand too. "Well, maybe you did to get me killed." The aqua haired girl replied, only half jokingly. Haruka gave her an odd look and shook her head. "No. Because you are the only one I trust enough to take with me on such a mission." She then replied before letting out a sigh. "I was mad at you." She then admitted, her eyes avoiding Michiru's while she spoke. "At first. But then…I realized you were right." She let out another heavy sigh, her gaze wandering up to the ceiling. "If there's someone I could be mad at, it's myself. For hating what I am…and for pitying myself so much." She looked back at the aqua haired girl, giving her a weak, unsure smile. Michiru smiled back and gently reached out to take Haruka's hand. The blonde let this happen without protesting or pulling back – a sign for Michiru that she was on the right way. "Remember, Haruka…", the aqua haired girl now spoke, capturing the blondes gaze with hers, "if you need someone to talk, I'm there. Always." Haruka gave her another grin, this time a broader one, and nodded. "Thanks." She then replied, letting her cool and tough composure slip for a moment. Before she straightened up again and made a vague gesture down the hallway. "Let's better get walking again. I want to start as soon as possible." Michiru nodded, and together, the two women started to hurry down the hallway again, towards Amy's lab.

"And you're that this will work?" Haruka asked while she eyed Amy's newest inventions, an innocent looking pack of chewing gum and a seemingly normal wrist watch. "Just try it." Amy replied casually, leaning against her lab desk with a slight smile on her face. Haruka shrugged before popping one of the gums into her mouth, chewing around on it for a while before she spit it back out, against the iron plate that stood a few meters away. The gum got stuck to it, and seconds later, an explosion rang through the lab. Michiru giggled and looked at Amy approvingly. "Exploding chewing gum. You never cease to amaze me, Amy." The scientist smiled at the aqua haired girl and shrugged. "That's my job. But be careful with it, you two, if it explodes while you still have it in your mouth, you won't have no teeth left." Haruka nodded, tucking the pack of gum into the back pocket of her jeans. "Now to the watch." She mumbled, taking her own one off and putting the one Amy had readied for her on. She fumbled around on the buttons for a bit, then found the right one and pushed it. An almost invisible string of nylon rope shot out of the watch, the small hook that was attached to it unfolding while it flew, until it got caught at the upper edge of the high iron plate. "Now push the other button." Amy advised the blonde ex-commando, who did as she had been told. The cord got pulled back into the watch with a high humming sound, pulling Haruka up until she dangled a few meters above the ground, gripping to the iron plate with both hands. "Interesting." The blonde commented before she let go of the plate and landed on her feet safely. "The nylon cord is strong enough to hold the weight of both of you, and pull you upwards to all possible heights, from one meter up to fifteen. I suggest that Haruka keeps the watch, since it will be easier for her to hold you, Michiru, instead of the other way round." Michiru nodded, a mischief glint suddenly filling her eyes. "Can I get the gum then?" she asked, causing both Amy and Haruka to chuckle slightly – with Amy chuckling for a much shorter time, since her eyes went wide when she heard how the blonde produced the for her unusual sound. As soon as the blue haired scientist had calmed down again, she opened of the drawers of her desk and pulled out a second pack of the exploding chewing gum, handing it to Michiru. "Here…now both of you have one. And remember what I told you about your teeth." She then added with a wink. Both Haruka and Michiru nodded before Haruka pulled out her car keys, giving a slight smile towards her partner. "Shall we leave then?" she asked, making the keys jingle with a slight shake of her hand. Michiru nodded, the two said their goodbyes to Amy, who wished them good luck, and left the lab, heading out into the garage. Both women got into the car, Haruka as always being the driver. The blonde started the engine and drove off, towards the Tokyo Army Base – not knowing that she and Michiru were driving directly to the most dangerous mission of their careers yet.

End of Episode 4 and Part I.