"Forbidden Fruit"
A Sailor Uranus Story
By Bill K.

Story is (c) 2000 by Bill Kropfhauser; Characters are (c) 2000 by Naoko Takeuchi/
Kodansha and Toei Animation and are used without permission, but with respect.

As always, for anyone only familiar with the English dub:
Serena=Usagi
Amy=Ami
Raye=Rei
Lita=Makoto
Mina=Minako
Amara=Haruka
Michelle=Michiru
Trista=Setsuna
Darien=Mamoru
Rini=Chibi-Usa

Finally, Haruka and Michiru are NOT cousins.

The events of this story take place right after Sailor Moon S episode #126.
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"I have to go back."

It was a simple statement, but Haruka knew it was fraught with traps. The
inevitable next question would be "why". Then she'd have to lie or explain and
she really didn't want to do either. If she had been stronger, she wouldn't
have this problem facing her. But that was her life in a nutshell: she never
seemed to be strong enough.

"How long will you be gone?" Michiru asked innocently.

Haruka studied the green-haired goddess. She sat placidly on the edge of
the bed in the room they'd just booked in the inn they were staying at. There
was nothing to her demeanor to indicate she was upset, but Haruka wondered. If
she was upset, she apparently wasn't going to betray it to her companion. She
was going to let Haruka lead her own life and choose her own path.

It made Haruka feel even more guilt.

"I don't know," Haruka shrugged, her husky voice no more than a whisper.
She forced herself to face Michiru. She saw no accusations in the water senshi's
eyes. "I may be back by morning."

"Call me if it'll be longer," Michiru requested.

Was it possible Michiru didn't suspect anything? Haruka couldn't believe
the fates would ever grant her such luck.

The sandy-haired woman climbed into her cherry red sports car, still
dressed in the beige sport shirt and dark slacks that she'd checked in with.
She was fifteen kilometers down the highway before she realized she'd actually
left Michiru in the inn. She also realized she was going too fast, even for
her, and throttled back.

After the climactic confrontation with Sailor Moon, when that small girl
had revealed their ignorance to them and demonstrated with gentle elegance that
she was worthy of their respect and allegiance, Haruka and Michiru had sped off
in the sports car to seek some respite. They had faced down The Silence. Now
it was time to discover each other in some millieu other than life or death
battle.

That had been the plan. But the further Haruka got from Tokyo, the more
she realized there was a problem. She owed Michiru so much, and she thought she
loved the woman, but now she knew there was another. Distance only made the
longing worse. It was typical, reasoned Haruka. Just when she'd found
something special, there were the fates to torment her again. She was destined
never to know true happiness.

The pair had driven until nightfall. Michiru suggested they put in at the
inn. Haruka agreed readily, determined not to weaken. However, she was
distracted all through dinner and afterward realized she just couldn't continue
without knowing.

It was a little after nine as Tokyo's outskirts rolled into view. As the
city loomed larger, though, doubt began to creep into Haruka's mind. Was this
wise? Was she throwing away something that could last her a lifetime for a
moment's urge, a fantasy that might have all the substance of smoke? She
considered turning around.

"No!" Haruka snapped at herself. "Stop being weak! You've chosen your
path! At least be honorable enough to follow it through to the end! You'll
just have to bear whatever misfortune it might bring you."

The car came to rest across from an ordinary house in an ordinary
residential neighborhood. There were lights on in the living room and kitchen
on the first floor, and one of the bedrooms on the second. Haruka settled in
and watched the bedroom window. After about ten minutes, a silhouette passed
across the window. It was unmistakable. That room was her room.

As she exited the sports car and walked over to the house, Haruka examined
her options. Appearing at the front door would create too many questions. Her
intended might even refuse to see her. She could change to Sailor Uranus and
simply leap up to the window, or she could climb up on a nearby tree.

It was warm and the window was open. Haruka slipped in silently. She
stood by the window, suddenly overwhelmed by the sight before her. The room's
occupant, for the moment unaware of the presence of another in the room,
reclined on her stomach on her bed. She wore a clingy pink knit top and faded
bib overalls cut and hemmed into shorts. Ankle socks covered dainty feet. She
was engrossed in a fashion magazine, the picture of youthful innocence. That
was part of what attracted Haruka. It was also why she kept silent. She didn't
want to spook this little fawn and destroy the vision before her. At the same
time, Haruka cursed herself for cowardice for lurking unannounced in this girl's
bedroom, spying on her. She drew in a breath to steady her nerves.

"Usagi," Haruka said. The girl jumped.

"H-Haruka?!" gasped Usagi, surprised and just a little alarmed. "How did
you get in here?!"

"The window was open," she offered lamely. "Don't be afraid. I'm not
here to fight you again."

"Well, I'm glad for that," Usagi replied, releasing her breath in a loud
gasp. "So why are you here? Is something wrong?"

"No. I think we have a respite from trouble for a little while."

The two stared awkwardly, waiting for the other one to speak.

"I'm here," Haruka began, trying to keep her courage from flagging, "well,
when we were fighting the Deathbusters, I was . . ."

"Rude?"

Haruka lowered her gaze and grinned. Once again she had underestimated
this child.

"Focused," Haruka continued, "on my mission. So were you and the others.
But I wasn't so focused that I didn't notice . . . well, something . . . between
the two of us. Maybe you did, too?"

"What are you talking about?" Usagi replied blankly, wide-eyed and
innocent. If she was being coy, she was good. If she truly didn't understand,
Haruka realized that this was going to be more difficult than she anticipated.

"I mean," Haruka sighed, "I like you, Dumpling."

"Well, I like you too, Haruka," Usagi grinned.

"No," Haruka sagged. She cupped Usagi's chin and cheek in her hand. "I
think I . . . like you."

"Oh." It took a moment to dawn on her. "Oh! Oh, no, Haruka!" Usagi
gasped nervously, backing out of the woman's grasp. "I-I'm not like that!"

"How do you know?" Haruka asked, standing her ground neutrally. "Have you
ever tried it?"

"B-Because I'm not! I mean, not that there's anything wrong with that!
But . . . well, I'm not, you know?!"

"So you didn't feel anything?"

"No! I mean," Usagi replied quickly, unconsciously backing up slowly as
she spoke, "well, when I thought you were a guy, but that's different, you know?
I mean, I do respect you and like you. I mean, you're so cool and strong, and
you're super-cute. For a guy, I mean! Not that you're a guy, but if you were a
guy, you'd be super-cute. Not that you're not cute now! I mean, if I thought
women were hot, you'd be hot. But I don't! I'm not attracted to you or
anything. I'm not like that, you know? But it's OK that you are." She
realized she was babbling and seemed helpless to find a way out of it. "Besides,
there's Mamo-chan! I love Mamo-chan, you know. I mean, I really love
Mamo-chan!"

Usagi took another step backward and stepped on a carelessly discarded
textbook on the floor. She lost her balance and lurched forward to regain it.
Haruka moved toward her to catch her before she fell. Usagi spotted that and
lurched backward, even as she was lurching forward. The girl seemed to teeter
in the air, one foot on the floor, one in the air and both arms waving around
like she was trying to fly. Finally gravity took control and planted her firmly
on her butt.

"Ow!" groaned Usagi, her pretty face twisted in a familiar grimace.

"Are you all right?" Haruka asked, kneeling beside her. The woman's strong
hands braced on the girl's upper arms to support her.

"I swear I'm going to get callouses down there," Usagi whined. "God, I
hope I'm not this awkward when I'm Queen. It'll be so embarrassing!"

Usagi looked up at Haruka. Haruka was still knelt next to her, propping
her up, staring at her, barely breathing. For an eternity they both did
nothing. Then Haruka's face began to move to Usagi's. The young girl froze, a
deer in headlights. Haruka's eyes closed. Her lips sought out Usagi's. She
felt the girl's lip quiver as they touched.

It was a respectful kiss at first, gentle, belying the churning emotion
that so characterized Haruka. Usagi tasted of bubble gum and cherry lip frost.
She was soft and yielding in Haruka's hands. She didn't kiss back, but she
didn't fight either.

Was she scared, wondered the more mature woman. Was she stunned? Or was
she deciding?

Emboldened, Haruka pressed the issue, injecting some of the surging
passion she felt into the kiss. It seemed Usagi was responding at first, then
the girl began to squirm and fight. Finally she managed to push away.

"Please stop," Usagi squeaked, desperate to finish the encounter, but ever
the conciliator and loathe to provoke or offend. She looked so frail and
defenseless. Haruka could force her to do anything right then.

It made Haruka hate herself more than she ever had before, which was saying
something. Immediately the sandy blonde's head bowed and her eyes averted.

"Forgive me," Haruka murmured. "I had no right. I shouldn't have come."
She rose to her feet, towering over the prone girl. Turning to go, she stopped
and spoke over her shoulder, still refusing to meet Usagi's eyes. "I will make
amends for this. Ask anything of me and I'll do it. Just . . . please don't be
afraid of me . . . because of this."

"Haruka?" she heard Usagi say in that innocent little girl's voice of
hers. "I don't understand. I thought you loved Michiru."

Haruka stopped. She considered the question for a long time, amid
agonizing silence.

"I do. But," and for a moment she faltered. But Usagi deserved to know,
to see in full the folly of one human who dared to lust after a goddess, "I
couldn't get you out of my mind. I didn't realize it, but I came to need you.
I needed to," and Haruka searched for the right words, "to bathe again in your
radiance. To feel the touch of your tremendous spirit on my wretched soul."

"Wow."

"But I went too fast, as usual. I sought too much too quickly and now
everything is ashes." She still wouldn't face Usagi; instead, she sneered to
herself. "I shouldn't be surprised. What right have I ever had to aspire to
happiness? I should know better by now."

The press of soft hands on her arm and shoulder stopped Haruka's flight.
She turned and found Usagi behind her. It was a different Usagi, though. Usagi
the teen was gone. There stood Usagi the woman, the radiant goddess with the
wellspring of limitless compassion and forgiveness. Haruka swallowed. Nothing
physical had changed, yet the glow from her soul was almost blinding.

"You have every right to happiness, as much as anyone," Usagi said
forcefully. "More in fact! After all you did for this planet? After all you
were willing to sacrifice? Don't talk stupid! You're strong and fast and
brave, Haruka! And more importantly, you have a good heart! I've seen it!"

Haruka felt a lump in her throat.

"Besides, you're the hottest guy any girl could hope to be!" Usagi
continued, then stopped short. "Or something like that."

Haruka smothered a laugh.

"I knew you were a good person and a valuable friend, even when you didn't
think much of me. I still do. But I love Mamo-chan. I always will. Just
because I look at someone else, and maybe for a little longer than I should,
doesn't mean I'm looking for someone else, you know? Mamo-chan's all I need.
He's all I want. And there's nothing wrong with Michiru. She likes you, you
know! And she should be all you want."

"I get the message, Dumpling," Haruka smiled wistfully. "I'll go now."

"Not yet! You deserve as much happiness as anyone, Haruka. Don't ever
forget that and don't ever think otherwise. It's not fair to you. And it's not
fair to Michiru, either."

"Yes, my Queen," Haruka grinned. As she turned to go, she caught that
blinding smile spreading across Usagi's face again. "Again, I'm sorry for
kissing you."

"Haruka?"

"Yes?"

"It wasn't that bad."

"Don't tease me like that, Dumpling," Haruka said, her back to Usagi and
her emotions hidden. "This is hard enough."

"Sorry," squeaked Usagi.

Usagi stood at the window, gazing down at Haruka as the woman lept to the
ground and walked to her car. It had been an unsettling experience, but Usagi
couldn't get herself to dwell on that. She was too concerned about Haruka.
She'd always struck Usagi as a woman that had suffered greatly in her life and
carried a great deal of anger and pain within her. Some of that had spilled
over tonight. Usagi hoped she'd been able to help the woman. Maybe Michiru
could help her, too - - if Haruka went back to her.

"I hope they haven't broken up," Usagi mumbled, biting her lip. "Haruka
needs her."

"I saw what you did," Chibi-Usa said. Usagi whirled and found the girl in
her doorway. "I'm going to tell Mamo-chan!"

"You do and I'll kick you all the way back to the thirtieth century, you
little spore!" growled Usagi. She broke into a dead run, in hot pursuit of her
little pink-haired nemesis.

The trip back was saturated with mixed emotions. Haruka continued to be
amazed by Usagi. Her bubble-headed demeanor was just a fa├žade. There were
depths to that girl that were intimidating, depths that even Usagi hadn't
guessed existed. Nothing seemed beyond her, except perhaps walking and chewing
gum at the same time.

She couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like if Usagi had
said "yes". But Usagi had known Haruka's correct path even when Haruka hadn't.
Her destiny lay with that lovely young artist sleeping innocently in an inn.

A destiny she may have fatally damaged by this little trip she took. Why?
Why had she run off? Why had she given in to the whim? Why hadn't she taken
the time to examine the question and determine the answer before acting? Usagi
was sweet, like candy to a child. Michiru was nourishment to a starving soul.

Her foot pressed on the accelerator. The sports car flew along the
asphalt ribbon, plunging headlong into the night, the roar of its fuel-injection
turbos shattering the peace of the post-midnight calm. Haruka again realized
she had throttled up without consciously thinking of it.

"In a hurry again?" she asked herself. "Are you running to your love or
are you running from your shame? Or are you just hoping you'll get into an
accident so you don't have to face Michi-chan's wrath?"

Haruka pulled into the parking lot of the inn. It was after three a.m.
The thought had occurred to the sandy-haired scout more than once that it might
be pretty hard to find another place to stay if she was no longer welcome in
this one. For a moment, she contemplated getting back into the car and driving
until she ran out of fuel.

"No," she told herself. "You've spent too much of your life running.
Demonstrate some courage."

The key turned in the lock. Haruka opened the door and peered inside. It
was dark. Walking through the dark, she entered the bedroom. Michiru was
asleep.

Haruka stood over her, watching her sleep. Michiru always had an inner
peace that Haruka envied, but never more so than when she slept. The woman felt
her chest tighten. To think she even contemplated throwing this all away, and
over an infatuation. Usagi stirred desires in her like no other woman could,
but she was an infatuation. Michiru, however . . .

Bending over the woman, Haruka kissed her on the cheek. Like Sleeping
Beauty, the woman stirred and stretched.

"You're back," Michiru smiled. "What time is it?"

"Way too late," Haruka replied.

"Did you find what you were looking for?"

How to tell her? Did she dare? Did she dare not?

"I found it," Haruka replied. "But I found out it wasn't mine to begin
with."

"I see. And how is Usagi doing?"

By now Haruka's eyes had adjusted to the low light. She turned to
Michiru, searching her lover's face for a trace of hurt or malice and finding
none.

"How long have you known?" Haruka asked.

"You think you're so grave and mysterious," grinned Michiru. "I could see
you drooling all over Usagi almost from the moment you two met. I could see it
wasn't just the usual way you flirt with other girls just to tease me. And I
could see how much you worried about her and how disappointed you were in her
when she didn't do what you thought she should. She's quite important to you.
I could see it. In fact, all the scouts saw it - - except for Usagi, of course.
There are times I think that girl would be oblivious to a grenade going off next
to her."

"I'm sorry if I hurt you," Haruka said, head bowed.

"You haven't hurt me. Were you planning to?"

"I - - no. But," stammered Haruka.

"Were you planning on leaving me for Usagi?"

"No."

"Then you haven't hurt me." Michiru's eyes narrowed. "Did you force
yourself on poor Usagi?"

"I started to," Haruka admitted.

"Oh, Haruka," sighed Michiru, rubbing her lover's arm. "You always act
before you think. Is she all right?"

"Yes. I think so. She was able to bring me to my senses in time. She's
a very remarkable little girl. She's a lot like you in some ways."

"Perhaps that's why you're attracted to us both," Michiru smiled
playfully.

The room fell silent.

"So . . .am I still welcome here?" Haruka asked, not looking at her.

"Do you want to be? Or am I just a port of last resort?"

Haruka turned to her, stung.

"Never. I wouldn't dishonor you so."

Haruka looked down again, trying valiantly to put her jumbled feelings
into words.

"Usagi asked me if I still loved you. I didn't answer until I knew if I
did. I said 'yes'."

Michiru beamed.

"I guess I had to know if it was her or you. I had to know . . . to be
fair to us all, if nothing else. I think I know now. Although why you'd love
someone like me is still beyond me."

"Sometimes it's beyond me, too," smirked Michiru. "But there are some
things in this world the wise person doesn't question. They just enjoy. Like a
perfectly struck note, or the breeze off of the ocean in the evening . . ."

Her hand closed around Haruka's.

"Or the perfect curve of a very kissable mouth."

Haruka grinned, looking like a grateful schoolboy.

"Tired?" Michiru asked.

Haruka nodded. Michiru lifted the sheet.

"Come on in. Let me rock my baby to sleep and give her nice dreams."

End