Disclaimer: I don't own SM.

Author's Note: This is dedicated to Hoppy-chan, because she loves Haruka so much. Also, this is my first attempt at writing Haruka, so forgive me for any OOC-ness. This is companion to First and Last and A Little Too Good, but you don't have to read them to understand what's going on.

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The Only Difference Between Martyrdom and Suicide is Press Coverage

"You know, if you'd just let me make breakfast, we'd be on the road right now."

Narrowing her eyes at Makoto, Haruka jabbed her fork at the tall brunette. "Watch your step, Thunderbolt," she warned. "I'm not even awake yet."

"Hey, it's not my fault you couldn't fall asleep, Whirlwind." Makoto leaned back in her chair and crossed her chest, smirking.

"It's not my fault you and Michiru were up at ungodly hours of the night talking, either, now is it?" Haruka smirked, lowering her fork as Makoto scowled.

Sitting across from the pair, Michiru resisted the urge to sigh; she let her gaze wander over the restaurant they'd settled at for breakfast for a moment, surveying and noting the fact that it seemed American based in food and décor, before turning her attention back to her companions. "It wasn't Mako's fault, Haruka."

With a groan of misery, Haruka dropped her head to the table. "I know, I know. Don't mind me, I'm exhausted. That and freaking out over the fact that we're actually attending school tomorrow."

Michiru wore the female uniform of their new school, and in her own opinion looked quite lovely in it. Haruka wore a male uniform by choice; Makoto also wore one, but only because they didn't have female uniforms in her size. Scowling a little, the brunette adjusted her tie and grimaced. "I don't see why they wouldn't let me wear my old uniform," she complained.

"Shut up, Thunderbolt. Take what life gives you without complaints."

"Oh, you're one to talk—"

Michiru cut off that line of thought by leaning over and adjusting Makoto's tie herself, pointedly ignoring Haruka as the blonde tomboy lifted her head from the table and aimed a dangerous glare at the senshi of thunder. Loving them both, she gave Makoto's tie a hard warning tug before leaning back and flicking Haruka behind the ear. "Cut it out, both of you," she scolded gently. "I don't want to have to drive into Juuban tomorrow with two bodies and explain how I got them."

Makoto paled. Haruka's head hit the table again with an audible thud.

Pleased that they'd gotten the message, Michiru leaned back in her chair and took a sip from her cup, keeping tune to the rhythms of the sea. She wasn't as close to it as she would've liked to be, but she'd survive. She'd heard their new apartment was near a pool, anyway.

"Refresh my memory, Haruka, Michiru." Makoto slumped in her chair, fiddling still with her tie and a look of resigned misery on her face. "Why did I hook up with you two again?"

"Because." Haruka's voice was muffled, as she refused to lift her head from the table. "We have a mission to find the talismans and use them to defeat the Daimon and find the Messiah and save the world from Silence."

Emerald green eyes blinked in confusion, thrown off for a moment as Makoto processed the fact that Haruka had said all of this in one breath. Michiru giggled.

"Okay." Makoto rubbed her temples with her hands for a moment. "Ruling out that very interesting stunt you just pulled, Whirlwind…"

"Comes from being a track star."

The senshi of the wind was ignored. "… From what I remember, you are on a mission," Makoto finished, pointing at Michiru and then at Haruka. She put her heads back behind her head, closing her eyes and shrugging. "Hell, I'm just along for the ride."

Michiru raised a brow, slowly setting down her cup with a soft clink. "Oh? That's what you believe?"

"Hey, I don't believe it, it's fact." Makoto shrugged again, opening an eye to survey the senshi of the sea. "I mean, when you think about it, both of you serve a purpose."

"Enlighten me."

"Well, Haruka, or Sailor Uranus if you prefer, is the leader." She gestured briefly to the track star, who had finally lifted her head from the table and was looking at Makoto with interest. "She's the one who decides whether or not to pursue a person's pure heart, and she decides when we attack and when we retreat. Hence, the leader."

Curious now, Haruka propped her elbows on the table and Michiru leaned forward. Despite everything, she was intrigued. "And what am I, then?"

"Michiru—or Sailor Neptune, take your pick—you're like Uranus's second in command. You back her up and help her out, but you don't always like it. You do it anyway, though, because it's duty."

Haruka frowned, mulling this over for a moment and immediately noticing the flaw. "So wait, if I'm the leader of our group and Michiru's the second in command, who are you?"

"I have no purpose, see?" Makoto closed her eye and smirked. "I'm just the third wheel that tags along and cares about people too much, and one of these days I might get myself killed. Then you two just go on with your lives."

By the time Makoto had come to this conclusion, Haruka's eyes had gone dangerously dark and Michiru's face was notably blank. A few moments of silence passed, and Haruka stood, pushing her chair back with a screech. Makoto flinched. "Hey, Whirlwind, what's the big—"

Her question was warped into a shriek as the senshi of Uranus, with great ease, swooped the brunette up and over her shoulder, heading for the door. She paused for a moment to call over her shoulder, "You can pay for us, right, Michi?"

"Got it."

"Good. I'll be outside with the idiot."

"I'll be right out."

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Makoto huffed but didn't say anything, knowing that was what Haruka would want; the blonde tomboy practically lived to fight, and was the only person who would even think of picking the senshi of thunder up in the first place. She focused on the ground with startlingly intensity, counting the number of steps it took for the senshi of the wind to reach the car.

She was set back onto the ground with a startled murmur, and scowled as Haruka leaned against her car, arms crossed and eyebrow raised. "What?" the brunette asked, rubbing the back of her neck. "What did I do this time?"

"You're being an idiot."

"… That's not an answer…"

Haruka just looked at her as Michiru walked calmly to her two friends. Now horribly confused, Makoto shoved her hands into her pockets. "Seriously, what the hell did I do?" she mumbled, beginning to feel nervous. She adored Haruka and Michiru, but the two could easily double-team her when they were in the mood.

Michiru stepped calmly up to her. "Your tie's loose again," she murmured, and as she straightened it out gave it one hard tug. "And where, exactly, did you get that idea?"

"The—oh. Uh. Well." Makoto cleared her throat, grimacing as Michiru gave her tie another tug. "I don't know. I've just had it for awhile."

"I see." Haruka's voice had gone soft, the way it sometimes was when she was Sailor Uranus. "I can understand the death part, but you honestly believe Michiru and I would just move on if you died?"

"Well, yeah, I mean, you're both strong. You'd survive. Go on with your lives."

Michiru gave Makoto's tie another sharp tug, enjoying her new secret weapon as Makoto winced. "How strong do you think we are, Mako?" Her voice, like Haruka's, mirrored her senshi counterpart.

"Very strong," Makoto answered honestly, forgetting her situation for a moment as she met Michiru's gaze and slowly lifted her eyes to look at Haruka. "Michiru, you and Haruka are the strongest people I've ever met. I only wish I could be as strong as you."

The two older girls contemplated this confession for a moment; Michiru's eyes softened and she released Makoto's tie, instead wrapping her arms around the tall girl's waist and resting her head against her chest. Hesitantly Makoto's arms came around her, and she stiffened slightly as Haruka quietly slipped behind her, hugging her from behind. "Haruka? Michiru?" Her voice shook slightly.

"You're an idiot sometimes, Thunderbolt." Haruka's breath was warm against her ear and sent shivers down her spine. "How strong do you think Michiru and I would be if you died on us?"

"You serve a purpose too, Mako." Michiru tilted her head up and smiled at the senshi of thunder. "Believe it not, you—or Sailor Jupiter—you're like our conscience. You believe in what's right and what's wrong, and you let us know when you don't think we're doing the right thing." She shrugged. "We might not like to hear it, but you make us stop and think."

Makoto laughed softly, running a hand through Michiru's hair. "Still… if I died—"

"We'd never get over it," Haruka said bluntly.

"And we'd blame ourselves every day," Michiru chimed in, "because we'll always believe we could have saved you."

"So do us a favor and don't die," Haruka concluded.

Makoto closed her eyes for a moment, relishing in the warmth of the embrace she shared with the two people she loved most in the world. She chuckled. "Only if you don't die," she murmured.

"Deal," Haruka and Michiru answered at once with absolutely no hesitation.

Content, the three broke apart again. "Now let's go," Haruka said. "We have to get into town by today so we can catch the school tour." She grimaced, but headed for the car door.

"Right behind you, Whirlwind."

Stepping back, Michiru gave Makoto's tie one last, gentle tug, her lips curving in a smirk. "You know, I could get used to you wearing this."

Makoto grinned, sweeping Michiru up into her arms and making the senshi of the sea squeal with surprise and delight. "Could you? Well then, maybe that'll make wearing it worth it."

Michiru giggled as Makoto set her down in the seat beside Haruka before easily vaulting over the door into the backseat.

As the car roared to life and shot off down the road to Juuban, the sun gleamed brightly in the blue sky above, shining golden rays of light.

The End

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This was amazingly fun to write, for some really odd reason. And yes, if you tilt your head in squint, you can see hints of Michiru/Makoto/Haruka.

...

I now have an image of Michiru dragging Makoto around by her tie stuck in my head.

Read and review, please!