Pure Heart Soliloquy
Part 1: The Breaking
All that Haruka can think as she looks at Michiru's body is that now, she will never get to touch her. Greater than the pain of her wounds are the memories that come, every time since they met that Michiru reached out to her and Haruka pulled away, too afraid to take what was being offered. She'd used the mission as an excuse, talked about the importance of staying focused and not being distracted by their feelings, but they both knew this was a lie. They both knew it was Haruka's fear that held her back, her inability to understand and accept that she was not alone any more, that she was loved and wanted.
Perhaps if Michiru had been a different sort of person, she would have forced the issue between them, the way she did Haruka's awakening. But Haruka knew Michiru well enough to know she would never want that which was not freely given, and so she never pushed Haruka further than she was willing to go, always withdrawing her hand with a slight shadow of sadness in her eyes, but no anger, no judgement, no impatience.
Perhaps, Haruka thinks, this is why Michiru's heart crystal shines so brightly. It is ironic; she has tears in her eyes as she looks up at the brilliance of that inner star, but not because it means Michiru is dead. It is because of the beauty of the soul she can see, the warmth of those rays on her skin that remind her of the caresses she always pushed away, and she wonders if Michiru can still hear her. If it is too late, now, to say the words that always stuck in her throat. So many times. There were so many times when Haruka could have told her, and she'd give anything now to have just one of those moments back, to make restitution in the only way she can.
The mirror, the sword and the orb. It is the mirror that Michiru possess, and Haruka knows it is the sword that lies in her own flesh. She isn't pure, she shouldn't have been chosen for this, but she doesn't deny reality any longer, because she can feel the sword within her, stirring, waking, desperate to join the mirror that floats above Michiru's body. It's as if the blade is slicing through her chest, carving out her heart, and when she glances down she is surprised that her uniform is not covered in blood.
Secretly, she is relieved. Relieved that she has an excuse to lay down this destiny that became a burden the moment Michiru was lost. Maybe hell awaits her, but it can't be worse than this; the sight of Michiru so dull and still, her light extinguished, stolen by the talisman that will determine the future of the world.
Haruka isn't afraid to die. She's been expecting it in a way, ever since her awakening, and she'd promised herself that she wouldn't begrudge her fate as long as she could spend every day between then and now in Michiru's company. Her only regret is that she couldn't save her, and she remembers the battle with Kaorinite at the waterfall and she knows now she was lying when she told Michiru it was Sailor Moon who made her go back. It was Haruka's own determination that led her there, and she'd just been running from the truth again, unable to admit, even to herself, that she couldn't leave Michiru to perish. She feels choked, overwhelmed, by this sudden flood of feeling, all those wasted months of wishing and wanting. If Michiru would just open her eyes, Haruka could put everything right, show her the love she's been hiding, but the opportunity has vanished between one beat of her heart and the next, and Haruka is alone again, as she always feared she would be.
"You're so unfair, Michiru, to leave for a world of your own." Soft and low, Haruka speaks to Michiru in a tone of voice she never would have dared to use when she was alive, and though it is an accusation, it is as close to a declaration of affection as her difficult nature will allow her.
She picks up the gun, and the metal is cold and unyielding in her hand, and this shocks Haruka, as if she expected to reach out and touch warm skin and soft hair, as if her admission of need should have called Michiru back from the dead.
Sailor Moon is screaming at her, but Haruka hardly hears. She points the gun at her chest, at the ridiculous yellow bow she will never have to wear again, and when she pulls the trigger, she doesn't feel anything, because her heart is already gone, broken in the moment when Michiru fell, good for nothing anymore except saving or condemning a world that will be cold and empty either way.
Part 2: The Healing
After all that, it was a bit of a shock to Haruka when she found herself alive again. It was even more of a shock to learn that she and Michiru were not the only two Outer Senshi; that there was a third who apparently regarded herself as their friend and seemed to understand far more than they did about the nature of their existence and their mission.
Haruka was grateful to Pluto, of course she was since she'd just saved their lives, but she couldn't help wondering why this mysterious woman hadn't shown up months ago. If Pluto had been with them from the beginning, Haruka and Michiru could have been spared so much; from believing they would have to commit murder, from the pain of having their hearts taken. Setsuna knew what she was thinking. Haruka could tell from the way the other woman watched her, garnet eyes almost seeming to challenge her to ask her questions. But finally, Haruka was the one who turned away, burying her resentment deep, whilst the guardian of time continued to explain herself with a calm demeanor that never changed.
A couple of years from now, on a languid summer afternoon, Haruka will ask Setsuna about it, will ask her why she delayed so long in joining them and let them die, and with a slight smile, not looking at her directly, Setsuna will reply, "can't you think of a reason?"
Because of course it was obvious. Without the prompt of Michiru's death, Haruka would never have admitted her feelings and stubbornly held out against a love as destined as her battles. It will make Haruka close her eyes in pain for a moment, knowing she is responsible for all the suffering they endured, for Michiru's screams of pain as the darts hit her on the day they died.
"Forgive yourself, Haruka," Setsuna will murmur, her voice soft and compassionate and just a little sad. "She forgave you, long ago."
"Let me go back, Setsuna," Haruka will beg, only half joking. "Let me go back and change it all, to love her as I should have from the beginning."
"It is only the future that can be changed, not the past. Be content with living for tomorrow and do not dwell on broken yesterdays."
It was a pity Setsuna wasn't to say that for another two years, because they were words Haruka could have done with hearing as she and Michiru stumbled into their apartment after the Marine Cathedral confrontation. A pearl grey sky indicated early morning, but Haruka didn't know what day it was, or how long they'd been fighting. It felt like forever. Did they have school today? School. What a bizarre concept, to sit in a classroom doing algebra after dying and being brought back to life. Not to mention coming to a realisation she still didn't know how to deal with.
Haruka could feel Michiru watching her cautiously, as if unsure of what she was going to do, and that was confusing too. Despite their occasional disagreements, Haruka had never known Michiru to mistrust her before. Normally she would have tried to find out the reason for it, but she was too tired right now. Questions, words, thought; everything seemed to be beyond her. She was like a stranger in her own body, feeling her way through an unfamiliar land.
She glanced over at Michiru. "I'm going to have a shower," she said abruptly.
Michiru nodded silently, her eyes still guarded.
Haruka wanted to kiss her, to run her hands over her body and make her skin heat so much she would never be horribly cold like that again, but she couldn't, and didn't know why. Instead, she turned away and took solitude in the shower.
When she came out, Michiru was preparing breakfast, and Haruka wordlessly took over from her, indicating with a tilt of her head that the bathroom was free. Michiru gave her a faint smile and disappeared, and Haruka listened to the incongruous everyday sound of running water while she laid food out on the coffee table in the lounge room.
Michiru raised her eyebrows at the informal setting when she joined Haruka, but didn't object. They sat down together on the white leather sofa picking at their meal, neither able to eat much.
"I'm sorry," said Michiru suddenly, breaking the brittle silence that surrounded them like glass.
"What are you sorry for?" asked Haruka, her brow crinkled in puzzlement.
"I broke the promise we made." Michiru turned her head to look at Haruka, damp curls clinging to her neck. "Aren't you angry?"
Haruka exhaled with a dark sniff of amusement. "That stupid promise. We've both broken it so many times I don't know why we made it in the first place." She smiled at the surprise on Michiru's face, reaching out with a slightly shaking hand to touch her cheek. The unexpected contact made Michiru start and draw in a sharp breath, but she didn't pull away.
"If I wish you'd acted differently," Haruka continued softly, "it's not because I don't appreciate what you did for me; it's only because it was so unbelievably painful to watch you die. Killing myself was easy, compared to that."
"And what if you hadn't had a talisman inside you? Would you still have taken your own life?"
The tremble in Michiru's voice was well hidden, but it didn't escape Haruka's notice. This question wasn't easy for her to ask, any more than it was for Haruka to answer. In the Cathedral, there'd hardly been time to consider alternatives, and she had to pause now as she thought about how things might have gone differently.
"No," said Haruka finally. "Not after you sacrificed yourself to save me. That would have been…insulting and ungrateful. I would have finished the mission, and once I'd done that, I would have searched past, present and future, every world and galaxy and timeline until I found you again, and then I would have made you remember who you are. The same way you did for me."
"And if I didn't want to remember?"
"Then I would have done this." Tilting her head down, Haruka pressed her lips to Michiru's in a gentle kiss, but almost before she could even register what it felt like Michiru was drawing back, her expression shocked.
Hurt flashed through Haruka at the rejection but she tried not to let Michiru see, dropping her hand from her cheek and smiling regretfully. "What's this?" she murmured. "For months you've been trying to get your hands on me, and now you pull away the moment I finally respond?"
Michiru shook her head. "Don't play games with me, Haruka. Not now. I can't bear it. Not after last night, when I let my heart be ripped out in a futile attempt to save you."
"I'm not playing games," said Haruka, frowning slightly at the bitterness of Michiru's undertone. She wanted to touch her again but couldn't; sitting stiff and proper, it was as if Michiru had drawn an impenetrable veil around herself, shutting Haruka out. Physical contact was obviously not what she wanted, and that made Haruka nervous, because without it, the only thing left was words, and words had never been her strong point. Nevertheless, remembering her regret at the Cathedral, her wish to be given just one more chance, Haruka was determined not to waste this one. She drew in a deep breath. "This is how I feel. I love you."
An unsteady laugh met her admission. "If I'd known this was all it took to break you down, I would have let the enemy kill me months ago."
"What's wrong, Michiru? Why are you acting like this? If someone's angry here, it's you, not me."
Haruka was unprepared for the infuriated look this comment provoked, Michiru's blue eyes as stormy as the sea. "Don't I have a right to be angry?" she almost spat. "Ever since we met, Haruka, I've given you everything I could, and it was like you didn't even notice. You preferred your empty flirtations to what I was offering, and I didn't understand it, didn't understand how you could push me away so easily, but in the end it didn't matter because I knew I was going to die and so I decided that no matter what I'd die loving you and you wouldn't have to get hurt. Everything else was beyond my control, but I thought that was the one thing I could do. Keep you safe. I thought as long as I did that, I wouldn't have failed. But none of it did any good and you still died and then we got saved and now we're right back where we were before and you're as far away from me as ever."
"I'm not. I'm offering you…everything I can."
"And what precisely is that?" There was an acrid edge to Michiru's voice, but Haruka couldn't blame her.
"My heart. My body. My fidelity. And even if I couldn't speak before, when I should have, you surely knew those things were yours already?"
"Not your body," Michiru said in a throaty tone that made Haruka blush slightly.
"Well, that you can have anytime."
Michiru rolled her eyes, but Haruka could see a faint sparkle rekindling in their depths. "Baka. Do you think I want to make love to you if you're just going to lie there and endure it like a trip to the dentist?"
"If my dreams are anything to go by," Haruka countered, "when we were together during the Silver Millennium I did not just 'lie there and endure it.' I seem to remember…" She trailed off, realising she was hardly prepared to verbalise most of what her dreams showed her, and quickly modified what she'd been going to say. "Well, for one thing, I remember there's a place on your neck, just here, where you used to love being kissed."
She ran her fingers over the side of Michiru's neck, smoothing her hair out of the way, and smiled a little as Michiru tilted her head back with a breathy sigh, eyes fluttering closed. Leaning closer, Haruka allowed her lips to just graze over Michiru's skin before opening her mouth to suck lightly at a point below her ear. Michiru moaned in a way that stirred long forgotten memories in Haruka's mind, and her heart sped in excitement as she felt Michiru's hands against her, travelling up her body to rest against her breasts before, paradoxically, pushing her away.
"Don't," said Michiru, her voice hoarse.
"Ah, you don't like it anymore?" asked Haruka innocently.
"No, I – I can't think when you do that."
"Is thinking necessary right now?"
"I want to know why, Haruka. I want to know why you pushed me away for so long. So stop trying to distract me with kisses."
"All right." Haruka sighed. Talking about this was still making her feel uncomfortably exposed, but she recognized that Michiru had the right to know why she'd behaved as she did. "It wasn't easy, pushing you away. I thought about it all the time, about what it would be like to respond when you touched me." She gave Michiru a heated glance that made the exact nature of those thoughts abundantly clear, noting the sudden flood of colour it caused in Michiru's cheeks. "I wanted to be close to you, but I couldn't. I was afraid. I didn't want to know how it would feel not to be alone, because I knew that if anything happened to you, I wouldn't be able to bear it; going on with the memory of what I'd lost. Except it didn't make any difference, because you were already in my heart and the pain of watching you die wasn't any less. Please—" Haruka took Michiru's hand, her voice cracking slightly. "Don't leave me again."
It was a moment before Michiru answered, the rapid rise and fall of her chest suggesting that Haruka's plea had not left her unaffected. "You have a terrible sense of timing you know," she said at last, glancing down at their interlaced fingers before looking up at Haruka with a smile that might have been slightly apologetic. "Every part of my body hurts, and I'm so tired I can hardly keep my eyes open."
"Then let me sleep with you. Just to hold you and know you're safe – that's enough for me."
Michiru giggled. "Well, Haruka," she pointed out, "you're the one with the double bed. I only have a single. So, if you want to sleep with me, you'll have to invite me into your room."
"Gladly," Haruka whispered. She rose to her feet, pulling Michiru with her, and when she kissed her this time, Michiru didn't shy away. It was like they melted into each other, bodies fitted together perfectly, and Haruka knew, even after just one kiss, that she'd never be able to go back to the distant days of before. Not now she knew how sweet Michiru tasted, how good it felt to hold her. So used to protecting her independence, Haruka found this sudden recognition of need a little terrifying, but there was something comforting, too, in the thought of a companionship the like of which she'd never imagined would be hers.
"I'm sorry," said Haruka. "I'm sorry I was scared for so long."
Michiru shook her head slightly. "It doesn't matter now. Just don't run away from me again."
"I won't. I promise."
Outside, a new day was starting in the city, people hurrying off to work, cars clogging the streets, but when Haruka led Michiru into her bedroom all was quiet, the blinds closed against the morning. Perhaps, given that they'd never shared a bed before, things should have been awkward, but they weren't. Michiru quite naturally settled into Haruka's arms, her head pillowed on Haruka's shoulder, and almost immediately she was asleep, the steady sound of her breathing filling the room. Haruka touched her gently, tracing her fingers over warm, vibrant skin, and, in an uncharacteristic moment of softness, thought that maybe Sailor Moon was right after all. Maybe love was the most important thing, and it really was enough to save the world.