Woman Without A Face

Author's Notes: The following story is very loosely based on Mel Gibson's movie "Man without a face" (isn't Mel a hottie?). I do not own Haruka or Michiru, but I own the plot and everything else, and if you steal it I'll hunt you down! (just kidding ;-) )

I dedicate this story to Sammy, my very nice colleague who beta-read it.

Michiru Kaioh carried her last suitcase in the house she had bought in the small, sleepy village Daisuka, locked the door behind her – a habit you can't get rid from one day to another after living in Tokyo twenty years -  and straightened her back. She frowned when her spine cracked loudly before opening all the curtains to allow the last sunlight shining in before dawn came. When she opened the curtain of the bedroom window, she saw another house that stood approximately two hundred meters away. Behind the window that she could see from her position, a tall, athletic built person stood, looking over to her. Following a sudden instinct, Michiru raised her hand and greeted the person. The greeting wasn't returned; instead the man or woman in the other house turned off the light. Michiru pouted and yawned. "I guess I'll go to sleep now." She said to no-one in particular, since she was alone in the house. "There's a lot of work for me tomorrow." No sooner said than done, Michiru undressed and put on her pajamas. She climbed into her bed and soon fell asleep.

The next morning, the loud barking of two dogs in front of her window awoke her. Michiru sat up in her bed, rubbed her eyes and yawned when outside someone let out a shrill whistle, followed by a husky voice shouting: "Rover, get back here! And you too, Lord!" Michiru peeked out of the window only to see two black Labradors running around in the garden that belonged to the other house and a tall, blonde man standing with the back to her, throwing sticks for the dogs. Michiru watched with amazement how the bigger of the two animals caught one of the sticks from mid-air. She quickly opened the window and called outside: "Good Morning!" The man flinched and glanced at Michiru over his left shoulder. "Morning." He then said, not too friendly. Michiru gave an inner sigh when the man whistled his dogs to him and started to walk towards his house. "Don't you want to introduce yourself to me?" she shouted after him. "After all, we're neighbors!" The man stopped dead in his tracks and answered, without turning around. "Haruka Tenoh." Before Michiru even had the chance to say anything, the man walked away.

Later that day, Michiru drove down to the village – her house stood on the only hill of Daisuka – to buy a few groceries. The owner of the small village shop, a very old man named Goemon, greeted her warmly, assuring her that she was "the most beautiful woman in the whole village", and kissing her hand. Michiru was flattered and smiled at the man happily. "So, what do you need, young lady?" Goemon asked. Michiru handed him her shopping list, and he packed all the needed groceries into old-fashioned brown paper bags, much to Michirus enthusiasm. "You're lucky that it's Tuesday." Goemon informed her while shuffling through his store and packing all the things Michiru needed. "Why?" the aqua haired woman asked suspicious. "Usually I close at six o'clock, but every Tuesday I leave the store open until seven." Goemon informed her. As soon as he had finished his sentence, the sound of a car engine converged outside. Goemon looked at his watch and smiled. "Punctual as ever." He said, bend down behind his counter and put two paper bags filled with various items on it. The old man gave Michiru a pleading look and asked: "Could you please leave now?" Michiru frowned, but agreed. "Sure." She paid her groceries, picked the two bags up and made her way towards the door. Suddenly the door was pulled open from outside, and Haruka entered the store. She spotted Michiru and turned her head to the right side as quick as a flash, so Michiru only could see the left side of her face. "Good evening, Ma'am." She mumbled. "Good evening." Michiru greeted friendly. She left the store and got into her car, shooting another glance at Haruka before starting. "That is weird." The aqua haired woman thought to herself. "He behaves as if he doesn't want me to see his face. But why? From what I could see, he's kinda cute." (A/N: remember, Michiru still thinks that Haruka is male ^_^) Finally, Michiru decided that she had other things to worry about and drove off, up to her house.

It was dark outside. Michiru sat in her comfy chair, eating potato crisps and watching a cheesy romance movie on TV when a weird noise came from her front door. Michiru frowned and walked over to the door when the noise came again, this time accompanied from barking. "It's one of Harukas dogs!" Michiru thought to herself, grinning. She opened the door, and a big black Labrador jumped into her hallway, barking and tail-wagging. "Hey", Michiru grinned, went down on her knees and examined the dogs tag. "So you are Lord. Where did you leave Rover?" The dog barked again and looked up at her, his tongue hanging out. Suddenly, a husky voice yelled on the street: "Lord! Where are you, you little bandit?" Michiru decided to take the chance that was offered to her, grabbed Lords neckband and led him out of her house, into the front garden. "Mister Tenoh!" she called out, causing the tall blonde to flinch. Haruka turned halfway around to Michiru, again only showing the left side of her face. Lord barked at the sight of his owner and pulled with all his might to be set free from Michiru. Michiru smiled and let go of the dog, and it immediately ran to Haruka. The tall blonde got down until she was at the dogs height and greeted him with a small chuckle. "There you go, annoying our new neighbor. Shame on you." She scolded playfully. Michiru smiled at the scene and walked over to her fence. "Oh, he didn't annoy me. He's a real cute dog, really." Haruka gave her a look and straightened to her full size of 178 centimeters, pulling her darkblue baseball cap deeper in her face in the progress. "You think so?" she asked. "Why, of course. Mister Tenoh…" Michiru was interrupted bluntly from Haruka: "I'm not a Mister, I'm a woman." „Oh!" Michiru called out, embarrassed. "Sorry about that." Haruka just shrugged and turned her back on Michiru to walk away, but this time Michiru was determined not to let this happen. She quickly walked out of her front garden and followed Haruka, calling out: "Hey, why are you so rejecting towards me?" she asked with hint of snappiness in her voice. Haruka again refused to turn around and answered: "I have my reasons." "Oh, come on." Michiru sighed, catching up to Haruka and taking her arm gently. "Look at me." She begged softly.

Later at night, Haruka didn't know what made her fulfill Michirus beg. Maybe it had been the gentle tone in the smaller woman's voice, or the wish to finally be accepted from someone. However, she turned around and allowed Michiru to look at her face.

Michiru had counted on a lot, but not on the sight that was exposed to her when Haruka faced her. The right side of the taller woman's face was terrible scarred; as if by a miracle, her eye had stayed unharmed. Michiru could see that the scars that covered Harukas right side of her face reached from her temple over her complete cheek down to her throat and neck. Haruka stared down at the polished tip of her boots and waited for Michirus reaction. "Dear God." The smaller woman now whispered, reaching out and gently touching Harukas scarred cheek. "How did this happen?" "Car accident." Haruka mumbled almost inaudible. She still didn't dare to look at Michiru, but looked up surprised when Michiru took her hand. "That's the reason why you were so rejecting?" Haruka nodded and was surprised again when Michiru smiled at her. "It's not hard to understand, Haruka. But you should know that I do not judge people by their looks." Haruka smiled back weakly, her smile was not more than a small raising of the corners of her mouth. "Most people say that. Until they meet me for the first time." Was the bitter answer. Michiru smiled again and tapped Harukas arm. "I just made fresh coffee, do you want to come in with me and have some?" she then asked. Harukas eyebrows jerked up in pure surprise. "Well, I…I'd love to." She finally managed to say. Michiru beamed. "Great! So, let's go inside then." Haruka nodded, and the two of them made their way to Michirus house.