Author's Note: Yup, here we go with another one, as promised in my previous fic :) Special thanks for this one goes to dearest Jen, who helped me figure out several moments where I got stuck and listened to my whining whenever that happened. Couldn't have done it without you, girl! :D
Disclaimer: You know how it goes, I own nothing.
Burden of Guilt
A feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.
The small room was mostly dark, the only light coming from the screen of the laptop standing on the office table in the middle of it; the only sounds were the noises created by the typing of the tall blonde using said laptop, her brow furrowed in concentration as she worked out the details on the latest contract she had been offered to handle.
Stopping her typing for a few moments, the blonde read through the last changes she had made, then nodded to herself, content with the offer her newest client had been made; and then, her concentration slipped and she winced, the brief moment of being unfocused enough to bring her pain back to her attention, her whole leg throbbing by now, after hours of sitting in front of the laptop, despite the comfortable office chair she was using.
Glancing at her watch, she calculated how long it had been since she had taken one of her painkillers; figuring that enough time had passed, she then snatched up the small orange pill bottle and opened it with a move long and well-practiced, letting one of the round white pills fall on her palm and swallowing it dry moments later.
Just as it made its hard path down her throat, a knock from the door gained her attention, and she still took the time to put the lid back on the small bottle before she called out "Yes", her gaze darkening immediately when the door opened and familiar blue eyes gazed at her, filled with a concern she didn't want to care about.
"Haruka", Michiru stated, stopping on the threshold awkwardly, "it's late, you should get some rest now, you've been in here for hours…"
"I'm not done yet", the blonde replied indifferently, the lack of emotion in her voice making the aqua haired girl flinch visibly, "and I need to finish this today."
"Alright", Michiru gave back after a second, as always finding it hard to hold the other woman's gaze, hurt by the indifference she saw in the teal eyes, "Setsuna-chan made dinner, if you want to I can bring you some, you didn't eat yet, did you…?"
"No", the taller woman had to admit, "and fine, if you want to bring something up, go ahead."
Nodding, the violinist stood there for a moment longer, her heart sinking when immediately, Haruka focused on her laptop again, dismissing her without even looking at her; she figured that by now, she should have gotten used to it, and that she deserved it anyway, but she still couldn't stop it from hurting, wishing for nothing else than the blonde to look at her with any other emotion than her indifference, even if it'd be hatred or disdain, something she was sure she could've dealt with better than the simple lack of care.
"You need anything else?" Haruka's voice distracted her from her ponderings; she swallowed heavily, fighting down the urge to tell her what she needed from her, that she needed her love again and her tender embraces, merely shaking her head in reply instead, somehow managing to keep her voice steady when she told the blonde that she'd get her something to eat now.
"You do that", the taller woman muttered, already focused on the laptop again; Michiru looked at her for another moment, then finally turned and left the room, gently closing the door behind herself.
Taking in a deep breath, she leaned her back against the wood and closed her eyes, fighting hard to keep her composure; for a few seconds, she felt like crying, then finally regained control over her emotions, her face a carefully composed mask as she made her way to the kitchen where Setsuna had put Haruka's share of the dinner into the fridge.
"I don't know why you keep this up", a melodious voice came from the living room as she moved past it; she flinched, then stopped walking and turned to look at the elder woman, a small sigh escaping her as she shrugged.
"It's the least I can do", she then told her, prompting Setsuna to put down her book and get up from her seat, concern written all over her face as she moved closer to her fellow Senshi, "after I…"
"Don't get started on this again", the Senshi of time and space interrupted her, shaking her head, "we've all told you a dozen times, it wasn't not your fault."
"It was", the violinist insisted, shaking her head when Setsuna looked as if she wanted to protest once more, the saddened tone of her voice when she went on clenching up the elder woman's heart. "It was my fault, and we all know it… please don't get this the wrong way, but I'm really not in the mood to discuss this again, and I promised Haruka I'd bring her up dinner…"
"Fine", Setsuna almost grumbled, not liking it to see her friend like this, "you do that then… is she still working?"
Nodding, Michiru forced herself to smile at the other woman, not caring if Setsuna noticed how fake her smile was; the two looked at each other for another moment, then the aqua haired girl finally moved on, making her way to the kitchen, leaning against the counter there as she waited for the food to heat up in the microwave.
With a small sigh, she looked up at the ceiling, knowing that the room which served as Haruka's office ever since the incident was located right above her head; again, she silently wished that she just could go up there and enter and be welcomed with an embrace and a kiss instead of uncaring looks and words, a lump once more forming in her throat as she thought of everything that had happened between the blonde and her ever since…
She cut the thought off before it could be fully formed, not wanting to go through the painful memories once more; fortunately, the small beeping noise of the microwave distracted her sufficiently, and once again she forced the carefully created mask of composure back in place before she removed the plate and made her way upstairs, as always when she walked up the stairs asking herself why Haruka had chosen a room on the first floor as her office, yet another small sigh coming from her as she pondered the fact that she couldn't just ask her anymore, something which wouldn't have been the slightest problem half a year ago.
Once again, she had to take a moment to compose herself before she knocked the door of the blonde's office; a gruff "Yes" came from behind the wood, and she entered the room once more, holding the plate with the food in front of her as if it was some sort of shield as she approached the office desk.
"Your dinner", she stated the obvious, making sure that no important papers were lying on the desk before she put the plate down; Haruka let out some agreeing noise in response, not even looking at her, and for a moment, Michiru felt the urge to grab her and force her to do so, even though she knew it would only make things worse.
"Just leave the plate here when you're done", she said instead, her gaze briefly wandering to the pill bottle and her heart clenching up when she saw that yet again, there were less pills in it than there had been the day before, "I'll clean it up… I'll be downstairs in the living room in case you need anything…"
"Yeah", the blonde gruffly replied, still not looking at her, fully focused on the screen of her laptop; Michiru looked at her a moment longer, then turned without another word and left the room, once again carefully closing the door behind herself. Just like before, she remained in front of it for a few more moments, taking in a few deep breaths to calm herself; then, she mumbled "I'm sorry" to the wooden surface before she finally made her way back downstairs, not sure if Haruka even had heard her, but knowing it wouldn't make a difference even if she had, not after what she had done.
It took another one and a half hours until Haruka finally was satisfied with the contract and saved the finished document, reading through it once more afterwards to make sure no typos had been overseen and no important clauses had been forgotten; nodding to herself, she pressed the save button once more, just to be on the safe side, then closed the document and shut the computer down, another knock coming from the door just as the machine switched itself off.
"Yeah", she called out, not bothering to try and sound polite – with Hotaru already in bed and Setsuna pretty much avoiding her ever since the incident, it could only be one person, her deduction confirmed when the door opened and Michiru stood there, looking at her, the mere sight of the violinist causing Haruka's mood to drop.
"Just want to get the plate", Michiru mumbled, waiting for the blonde to nod before she moved to the desk, noticing the dark laptop screen as she picked up the empty plate, glad to see that Haruka at least had taken the time to eat.
"Done for today?" she asked, giving her best to sound casual; again, the blonde just nodded, snapping the laptop shut afterwards as if to underline her gesture, Michiru watching with the emptied plate in hand how she then picked up the pill bottle and let it slide into her pocket, the aqua haired girl taking a step back to give her some room to get up.
For a few more moments, Haruka remained in her chair, as if she was silently prepping herself to get up at last; and then, she grabbed the cane which was leaning against the desk next to her, leaning heavily on it as she came to her feet at last, Michiru's heart clenching up as she watched how the blonde took a step away from the desk, as always favouring her right leg, putting her weight on the cane instead of on the limb.
"I'm going to bed", the former racer now told her, shaking her head when the aqua haired girl offered to help her down the stairs in response; it wasn't the first time that she made this offer, and it wasn't the first time that it was declined, but still Michiru didn't give up, offering her help every day and handling the disappointment and pain at the rejection anew each time.
Without another word, Haruka moved past her, each low thump of her cane on the carpeted floor reinforcing Michiru's guilt about what had happened to her; with a heavy heart, the aqua haired girl watched how the taller woman made her way to the staircase, putting as little weight as possible on her right leg, each labouring step she took reminding Michiru of what she had caused and why she was accepting the blonde's behaviour towards her, yet another apology dying on her lips as she once more realized how useless it would be to say those words another time.