"The Wall"
A Sailor Moon Fanfic
By Bill K.

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Sailor Moon and all related characters are (c)2001 by Naoko Takeuchi/
Kodansha and Toei Animation, and are used without permission, but
with respect. Story is (c) 2001 by Bill Kropfhauser

As always, for those only familiar with the English dub:
Usagi=Serena
Ami=Amy
Rei=Raye
Makoto=Lyta
Minako=Mina
Haruka=Amara
Michiru=Michelle
Setsuna=Trista
Mamoru=Darien
Chibi-Usa=Rini
Umino=Melvin
Kaa-San=Rei's pet name for her mother

Finally, Haruka and Michiru are NOT cousins.
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"Hey, Usagi!" Umino called out from down the hall. Every
student turned and stared first at him and then at Usagi before going
back to their own business. Usagi sighed as Ami tried to conceal a
grin. No matter how old Umino got, parts of him stayed in an eternal
time warp.

"What, Umino?" she sighed.

"Did you hear . . ." he began, then was silenced by one of
Usagi's extended fingers shoved in his face.

"But!" she spat dramatically. "If you're about to brag about
your latest test score, I DO NOT want to hear it!"

"I got a hundred," Umino shrugged. "I thought you knew that."

Usagi's hand curled into a fist and she seemed to be struggling
with using force against the bespectacled youth.

"Control, Usagi," Ami whispered, rubbing the blonde's
shoulders. "Control."

"No, I was going to ask you if you'd heard about Haruka Tenoh,"
Umino continued. "I know you're friends with her."

"She was racing today, wasn't she?" Ami asked.

"Did she win?" Usagi gasped enthusiastically.

"No, she crashed," Umino told them. He saw the color drain
from the faces of both Usagi and Ami. "I thought you'd already
heard."

"What happened?" Ami gasped.

"Her car got too close to another one. She spun out and
crashed into the retaining wall. And at 36 km/h (roughly 200 mph),
given the physics involved, I don't have to tell you that it was
probably a bad crash."

"Is she in the hospital?" whispered Usagi, terrified.

"I think that goes without saying," Umino replied, surprised by
her response.

"Do you know which one?"

Umino relayed the information. No sooner had it left his lips
than Usagi was off and out the front door of the high school.

"Hey, Usagi!" Umino called after her. "You've still got two
classes left!"

"Some things are more important to her, Umino," Ami whispered,
distressed. "As long as you've known her, I'd think you'd know that
by now. And it's all I can do to keep from following her."
* * * *
"Miss Tenoh is listed in critical condition," the desk nurse
told Usagi. She was at the hospital's reception desk, trying to get
the number of Haruka's room. "She's currently in surgery. I'm
sorry, but I'm only permitted to give out more specific information
to immediate family members."

"But," squeaked Usagi. "Do you know if she's going to die?"

"I'm sorry, ma'am," the nurse smiled sympathetically. "I just
don't know."

"Well, can I see her?"

"Not while she's in surgery. Your best bet would be to go to
the recovery waiting room. Just check with the desk to find out when
she's able to receive visitors."

Reluctantly, due to past experiences in waiting rooms, Usagi
headed up. She entered the room and grimaced. It was the same
depressing d├ęcor and the same depressing collection of worried loved
ones. Scanning the room, she spotted Michiru off in a corner, deep
in thought.

"Michiru," the green-tressed artist heard and barely turned in
time to spot Usagi. The girl flung her arms around Michiru, squeezed
her tight and began crying on her shoulder. Overcoming her surprise,
Michiru smiled gently and folded her arms around Usagi's torso. "I'm
sorry," the girl sniffed. "I should be the one comforting you."

"That's all right," Michiru said softly. "If you cry for me,
it means I don't have to do it myself."

"How is she?" blubbered Usagi.

"The emergency room doctor said she had a ruptured spleen and a
compound fracture of her left femur. They also suspect she might
have a bruise of the sac around the heart." Usagi whimpered in
terror. "Now, Usagi, going to pieces won't help. We just have to
wait and believe she'll get better. Haruka's a fighter; you know
that."

Usagi nodded gamely. The two women sat down to wait amid the
hushed conversation of the other people waiting for word on their
loved ones.

"Were you there when it happened?" Usagi asked.

"I was at the track," Michiru replied measuredly. "I go as
much as possible to support Haruka, but I never watch the race
itself. It's - - well, something I don't have the ability to do.
Because of that, I didn't see the crash."

"Don't you like it that Haruka's a racer?"

"I like it because it makes Haruka happy. She's never more
calm than when she's behind the wheel of a car." Michiru looked down
at her hands. "But I have to confess I do worry, particularly now
when it's so soon after her shoulder injury. And I know the
mortality rate of this sport. I won't protest if she ever decides to
give it up." Usagi watched Michiru as the woman spoke, marveling at
the older woman's control.

"You're holding up very well," Usagi said, her every word
dripping with her unshed tears. "I don't know how you do it. If it
were Mamo-chan in there, I'd be passed out."

"Haruka needs me to wait for her until she completes her
journey," Michiru replied softly. Usagi could see some of the pain
she was concealing. "So I wait. If it takes the rest of my life,
I'll wait. It's as simple as that, Usagi."

"Wow," Usagi replied. "You two really are in love."

Michiru glanced down, flustered for the first time Usagi could
ever remember witnessing. It almost broke the dam, but Michiru
swallowed it back.

"Are the others coming?" Michiru asked.

"Probably when school lets out," Usagi said, then became
embarrassed. "I guess I kind of cut my last two classes. When I
heard, the only thing I could think to do was come."

"Well, I appreciate that," Michiru said, touching Usagi's hand.
"Although I would have understood if you'd stayed until school was
over."

"Are Setsuna and Hotaru here?"

"I asked Setsuna to keep Hotaru home, at least until I knew
Haruka was stable. I don't think she needs more of that kind of pain
in her life. The least I can do is try to minimize it."

"Does Haruka have any other relatives coming?"

Michiru's features hardened ever so slightly.

"I called her parents," Michiru responded with tightly
controlled calm. "They're not coming."

"What?" Usagi replied, stunned.

Michiru took in a deep breath. "You have to understand
Haruka's relationship with her parents. She realized early on that
she was homosexual. For a while she tried to suppress it and conform
to society's expected female behavior. Finally, at fourteen she came
to a decision to stop hiding it. She cut her hair. She began
wearing pants. Finally she bought a boy's school uniform with her
own money and began wearing that to school."

"Uh huh," nodded Usagi.

"It made her feel more comfortable with herself, but it didn't
win her a great deal of acceptance," Michiru sighed sadly, "least of
all from her parents. Her mother felt Haruka was deliberately
mocking her. Her father tried to force her to act the way he thought
a girl should act. And that only made Haruka rebel even harder
against them. You know how she is."

Usagi nodded.

"Then - - something - - happened at school. And her parents
took the attitude that she'd brought it on herself."

"No," Usagi gasped, horrified.

"They felt that because Haruka 'chose' to be homosexual and
'chose' to defy convention and call attention to herself, that - -
she deserved what happened to her." Michiru was struggling to retain
her calm. "Haruka responded by running away from home. Her parents
then disowned her. They haven't seen each other since she was
fifteen."

"Never? Michiru, that's terrible!"

"I called them right after I got here," Michiru said, scowling
slightly and looking at something only she could see. "I got
Haruka's mother on the phone. I said her daughter was in an
accident." Michiru let out a shuddering breath. "She told me she
had no daughter and hung up."

"Her own daughter?" Usagi asked. "Michiru, how can people be
like that?"

"We all set up walls, Usagi, to shield us from what hurts us.
Unfortunately, some build their walls too high or too thick, and
insulate themselves from the pleasure they might experience if they
just dealt with what pained them." Michiru scowled at herself.
"There I go philosophizing again. Forgive me for rambling, Usagi. I
guess it keeps me from worrying about Haruka."

"I understand. And I'm glad you can forgive Haruka's parents
that way."

"I don't forgive them," Michiru replied with an eerie calm, her
eyes growing steely, her demeanor radiating controlled fury. "I
understand them. That doesn't mean I forgive them."

The air became pregnant with resentment. Usagi shied back into
a shell. Michiru couldn't quite push her feelings away to apologize.
Finally, she got up nervously.

"I'm going to check on Haruka's progress," Michiru said
brusquely. She started out, then stopped, softened and turned to her
companion in misery. "Can I get you anything, Usagi?"

"Some candy, if they've got it," Usagi said timidly.

"Of course. Anything in particular?"

Usagi shrugged, grinning. "You know me. I'll eat anything."

A grin forced its way onto Michiru's face in spite of herself.
She nodded and walked out.

While she waited, Usagi's attention drifted over to a
television being watched by no one in particular. She drifted into a
numb vacancy of movement, staring at the changing pictures on the
news program while worrying about Haruka's condition.

Then she saw it. The news program ran a tape of the race
Haruka was entered in. Three stock cars roared down an oval track.
The middle car spotted a gap between the two ahead of it and shot
through with little more than a hair's clearance on either side.

Then tragedy: the car nearest the wall shifted left to get into
the center car's wake and shoot past the infield-side car. However,
it shifted lanes too soon and tapped the rear bumper of the center
car. The center car fishtailed, then swerved right at a high rate of
speed and slammed violently into the retaining wall. Usagi gasped,
horrified. Several others in the waiting room heard her gasp, looked
up, then over to the TV.

The racecar's entire front end disintegrated on impact. As the
cab and rear end skidded along the track to the infield, it was
struck again by an oncoming car and spun around. The remains of the
car, dragging rent fiberglass body parts behind it, ground to a stop
in the infield.

The tape started again, this time with a gruesome slow-motion
view of the impact. Usagi turned away. She didn't need to see that,
now or ever again. Tears streamed down her face and her fear for
Haruka's life increased a hundred fold.

"Usagi?" She turned and found Rei hovering over her, the
others behind Rei. Usagi leaped into Rei's arms and hugged the girl
tight.

"Oh, Rei, it was awful!" sobbed Usagi. "They showed the wreck
on TV just now!"

"Was it bad?" Minako asked timidly.

Usagi nodded. "I'm just glad Michiru wasn't here to see it."

The four friends sat down bracketing Usagi.

"How's Haruka?" Ami asked.

"She's still in surgery as far as I know," Usagi related.
"She's got a ruptured something and-and a broken leg, and she's got a
bruise on her heart!"

"It sounds serious," Ami nodded grimly. "But she can recover
from them. We have to trust the doctors, Usagi."

Usagi nodded unconvincingly.

"So how's Michiru doing?" Makoto asked. "She must be a
wreck."

Usagi shook her head. "Mako-chan, she's been so strong. I can
see it's eating her up, but she won't give in to it. I don't think
she's shed a tear yet."

"Well, people deal with tragedy differently," Ami said. "It
sounds like Michiru is walling her grief off so she'll be available
to help Haruka if the need arises."

"Wall . . ." Usagi mumbled. "Michiru was talking about
that . . ."

"I remember what I went through when my Kaa-San died," Rei
grimaced. "If Michiru can do that, she's a better person than I am."

"Thank you for the compliment," Michiru said. The others
turned to her and found her calm and smiling. Ami got up and hugged
her, followed by Rei. Minako placed a comforting hand on her
shoulder. Then Michiru turned and found Makoto standing near her,
looking uncomfortable.

"Umm," Makoto mumbled. "I know we haven't always gotten along,
you know? But I really hope Haruka's OK."

"Thank you," Michiru smiled gently.

"Is there any progress in her condition?" Ami asked.

"She's still in surgery. I don't know if that's good or not."
She looked hopefully to Ami.

"I don't know, either," Ami grimaced. "We should hope for the
best."

"Maybe they need some help."

As one the group turned to Usagi.

"Maybe I should . . ."

"No," Michiru replied firmly.

"But . . ."

"No, Usagi. I appreciate the offer, but I don't want you to
risk it."

"But Michiru," Usagi pleaded. "Haruka could die."

"We don't know that," Michiru replied in a deathly whisper.
"And - - even if it comes to pass, Haruka knew the risks of auto
racing and accepted them, just as we accept the risks of being
senshi. Haruka would never want you to risk yourself like this for
her sake. If you ended up dying so she could live, she'd never
forgive herself - - and I doubt she'd forgive me for letting you."
Michiru expelled a huge sigh. "If Haruka's destined to die, I'd
rather she die doing something she loved than watch her destroy
herself with guilt and anger because you took her place."

Usagi looked down. "What's the use of having power like this
if nobody'll let you use it to help people?"

Michiru cupped her fingers under Usagi's chin and lifted her
gaze.

"You simply keep it for someone who really needs it. After
all, you are underestimating Haruka," Michiru grinned hopefully.
"She's not done fighting yet. Just watch - - she'll beat this."

Usagi smiled tentatively.

"Oh," Michiru said, struck by a memory. "Here," and she held
out a chocolate bar to Usagi. Usagi took it timidly. Hearing Rei's
disapproving gasp of disgust made her blush.

One hour piled upon two and then upon three. For Usagi, each
second came only after an eternity of waiting. Ami, of course, put
her time to good use by doing her homework while the other three
paced or fretted or waited with eroding patience. Michiru, they
noticed, kept a stranglehold on her calm and waited patiently, almost
stoically, for word of her life-mate. Finally Minako decided to
answer the protest of her stomach and headed for the hospital
cafeteria. Rei quickly joined her. Makoto had little trouble
convincing Ami, but to their surprise couldn't convince Usagi to join
them. With a last concerned look back at their friend and Michiru,
they left the waiting room.

"You could have joined them," Michiru said softly.

"I couldn't have eaten anything," Usagi replied. "I barely
tasted the candy bar. Besides, if I leave and something happens,
it . . . well . . ."

"It'll seem like you deserted her in her time of need?" Michiru
offered. Usagi nodded, amazed. Michiru caught the look of amazement
and smiled faintly. "Why do you think I didn't join them. It's
completely irrational, of course, but . . ."

"Well, sometimes it's OK to be irrational," Usagi said.
Michiru smiled her assent.

A few moments of silence followed.

"I understand you've taken an interest in art," Michiru
commented.

"I guess so," Usagi replied modestly. "I kind of like it, and
everybody says I'm pretty good. I'll never be as good as you, of
course."

"Why do you say that?"

"Well," Usagi began, momentarily helpless to articulate her
inadequacy, "I mean, you're so good. I've seen some of your
paintings. I could never do anything like that. All I can draw is
cute bunnies."

"With proper instruction, you can go as far as your talent
takes you," Michiru told her. "You're just starting out, Usagi.
Don't put roadblocks in your path before you even begin. Have you
ever tried painting?"

"Do first grade watercolors count?"

"Why not? Did you enjoy it?"

"Oh, yes! It was fun!"

"Then you've won half the battle already." Michiru smiled
encouragingly at her. "I don't paint because I'm good at it. I'm
good at it because I wanted to be good at it. I'm good at it because
I have this - - need to create - - a need to show the world my
perception of it. Does that make any sense?"

"I guess. I just do it because it's fun."

"That reason's just as valid," Michiru replied.

They sat silently for a few more moments.

"Usagi," Michiru began. "If you'd like, I can show you a few
things to get you started."

"Would you?" Usagi asked. "That would be wonderful!"

"If you'd like to stop by some Sunday afternoon, we can do a
little painting together. Now you realize I can't make you good
overnight, right?" Usagi nodded. "And I'm a very demanding
teacher."

"I kind of figured that," Usagi said, looking down sheepishly.

"And it'll give you a chance to visit Haruka while she's
mending," Michiru said. Then she shifted her gaze slightly. "Or sit
with me if she doesn't make it."

"Michiru," Usagi whispered. "You shouldn't say things like
that."

"I have to acknowledge the possibility, Usagi. We're all
destined to die some day. This may be Haruka's time and I have to be
prepared for it. I don't want it to happen, but hiding from it
doesn't prevent it from happening."

"But Michiru, you have to have faith," Usagi said. "You have
to believe."

"I do," Michiru said, feeling Usagi's hand on hers and closing
around it with hers. "Being prepared for the worst doesn't mean I've
given up. I'll gamble on Haruka any day and win. That's my faith."

The pair settled back to wait some more.
* * * *
"Miss Kaioh?" Michiru looked up and saw a man in hospital
surgical scrubs. He was a nondescript, smallish man of about forty
with black horn-rim glasses and thick black hair. Michiru pushed
herself out of the chair and stood up, bowing to the man.

"Are you Haruka's doctor?" she asked, trepidation coloring her
tone.

"Yes. The surgery went well. There were no complications from
the ruptured organ. The contusion on the pericardium was minor and
should heal in a few days. The patient's in recovery now. The
anesthetic should wear off in about a half hour or so." He smiled.
"We'll even have her leg set by then."

Michiru looked at him, smiling happily. She didn't know
whether to laugh or cry or jump or praise every spirit god in the
Shinto religion. She exhaled loudly, twice, then finally sputtered
out, "Thank you!" She knew she should say something else, but 'thank
you' was all that occurred to her. So she said it again.

Usagi knew just what to do. The young girl leaped onto the
surgeon, wrapped her arms around his neck and gave him a big kiss on
his cheek.

"W-Well," the startled surgeon said, lowering Usagi to the
floor. "I knew there was some reason I got into this business. I
think that was it." Usagi giggled. "You can go in and see her any
time, Ma'am. She won't be awake yet, but you can sit with her if you
like."

"Thank you," Michiru replied again.

"Michiru!" Usagi squealed happily, grabbing the woman by the
arms and shaking her. "She's going to be all right!"

"Yes," Michiru nodded, half laughing herself. "She is."

"Come on, let's go see her!"

"No," Michiru advised her. "Go down to the cafeteria. Tell
the others."

Usagi nodded and tore off down the hall. At the end of the
hall, she glanced back and stopped. Michiru had sunk to the floor
just outside the doorway to the waiting room and was curled up in a
little ball. Concerned, Usagi ran back to her.

"Michiru?" Usagi asked, kneeling next to her. Michiru was just
sitting there, crying furiously. She looked up at Usagi and
resembled a helpless, forlorn little child.

"U-Usagi," she gulped, gasping for breath, valiantly trying to
stem the torrent of tears coming from her and failing. "I . . ." she
began, then surrendered to the shuddering sobs that overcame her
body.

Usagi put her arms around Michiru and held her, lightly rubbing
her hand on the woman's back as she cried on the girl's shoulder.
"Everything's all right now," she whispered amid Michiru's sobs.
* * * *
"Hi," was the first word out of Haruka's mouth when she opened
her eyes and saw Michiru sitting next to where she lay (she assumed
it was a bed).

"Hi, sleepyhead," Michiru grinned. "How do you feel?"

"Weak," Haruka sighed. She was silent for a few moments, like
she was remembering the crash. "The last thing I remember is seeing
the wall come up on me so fast. How bad is it?"

"Not as bad as it could have been," Michiru told her. "You
gave us all a scare for a while. But you'll be up and leering at the
nurses soon enough."

"Sorry if I worried you," Haruka whispered.

"You didn't do it on purpose," Michiru replied, gliding her
fingertips over Haruka's lips. Haruka kissed them lightly.

"I'm so glad you got through it, Haruka," Usagi said.

"Hey, Dumpling," Haruka whispered, noticing the dark circles
under Usagi's eyes. "My two favorite ladies are here. So did you
use up every tissue in the place?"

"Ohhhhh!" wailed Usagi and the torrent burst forth anew.

"Better call the nurse," Haruka smiled weakly to Michiru.
"They're going to have to change the sheets pretty soon if she keeps
up like that."

"Be nice," smirked Michiru, gently swatting Haruka's arm.

"How's the car?" Haruka breathed weakly.

"From what I understand, they're picking it up a piece at a
time with tweezers."

"Damn! That car was just beginning to run right, too. Next
time, I'll have to . . ." and Haruka glanced at her lover when she
sensed Michiru tense. The blonde expelled a guilty sigh. "I'm
sorry. You know I have to go back to it, don't you?"

"I know," Michiru said calmly, though tears began to form
around the edges of her eyes. "It's something you need to do. I
understand need. Don't worry about me. I promised to walk at your
side down whatever path you took. I don't break my promises."

"Even if I end up right back here again?" Haruka asked. "Or
worse?"

"I think the phrase is 'until death do us part' in the English
ceremony."

"I'll try to be careful," Haruka murmured.

"I'll try not to worry too much," Michiru said. She placed her
hand in Haruka's and felt her lover's hand squeeze ever so slightly.

"OH THAT'S SO BEAUTIFUL!" wailed Usagi and began crying anew.

THE END