In the next morning, Michiru was the first one to get up, and thus started preparing breakfast while she waited for the rest of her family to get out of bed; she already had been fast asleep when Haruka had gone to bed the night before, and when she had gotten up, the blonde still had been slumbering soundly, the aqua haired girl not having the heart to wake her, figuring that she could need the rest after the previous day's excitement – not to mention the fact that surely, her behaviour towards her partner would get even worse again, should she do the slightest thing Haruka might not like.
Sighing to herself as she filled the electric kettle with water, Michiru pondered how things actually had been easier when Haruka still had been completely indifferent to her – after all, she hadn't been forced to worry about doing or saying the wrong thing back then, something she was concerned about now constantly.
The low thumping of the cane on the hallway's hardwood floor distracted her from those ponderings, and she automatically glanced over at the doorway, slightly surprised to see that Haruka was up already; moments later though, her eyes showed her that her ears hadn't heard wrong as the blonde entered, favouring her right leg and leaning on the cane even heavier than usual, reminding Michiru of the fact that in the morning, after a night of sleep, her partner always had more trouble walking than during the day.
"Good morning", she greeted, smiling at the blonde, her heart jumping her chest when Haruka smiled back, tired and a bit lopsided, but a more honest smile than any of those she had given her during the last six months; limping over to the table, the taller woman slowly sat down before she returned the greeting, her voice so surprisingly kind that it nearly startled Michiru into flinching.
Giving her best to hide about how much this surprised her, the aqua haired girl turned back to the electric kettle as the sound of boiling water could be heard from within it; she carefully poured the transparent liquid into the cups she had readied, only to nearly spill some of it when Haruka spoke up behind her. "Michiru…?"
"Yes?" she asked as an answer, turning to look at the blonde, her surprise reaching new heights when she realized that Haruka was blushing, not much, but just enough to let it be noticeable; and now, the blonde also cleared her throat, making it obvious that whatever she had to say wasn't easy for her, the aqua haired girl's heart suddenly racing in her chest as she waited for her partner to speak on.
"Um, well", Haruka finally did so, all at once sounding so insecure that Michiru had to fight down the urge to raise an eyebrow, not wanting to interrupt her partner with the simple gesture, "I was wondering if… if you're free tonight…"
"Free?" Michiru echoed, her mind reeling as she tried to figure out what Haruka was aiming at, staring at the blonde in confusion, "free to do what?"
"Um", the taller woman mumbled in reply, fidgeting with her cane nervously as she looked down on her feet, suddenly not so sure anymore if this had been a good idea after all, already making plans about how to best punish Setsuna for this, "well, if you're not doing anything already, I thought that maybe, we could go out…"
Go out?! Michiru's mind nearly screamed as she just kept staring, what is she talking about? Has she lost her mind over night? Yesterday, she wouldn't even talk properly to me and now she wants to go out?
"Go out where?" she asked, not the smartest thing to ask, she knew, but it was the only thing which came to her mind; swallowing, Haruka looked up at her again, mistaking the shocked expression on her face for something else entirely, nearly pulling her head between her shoulders as she told herself that this had been a mistake, that she had been foolish to think that Michiru would forgive her the behaviour she had displayed during the last six months so quickly.
"I don't know", she muttered, her gaze dropping again, "whatever you want. Dinner maybe, or, dinner and a movie, I don't know…"
Stunned into silence, all Michiru could do was stare, her mind still reeling from the former racer's words; and once again, Haruka read her silence the wrong way, something which never would have happened before the whole mess with the accident and her leg, clearing her throat noisily as she came to her feet again, the defeated sound of her voice finally tearing Michiru out of her stupor.
"Maybe that wasn't such a good idea", she brought out in a low voice, gripping her cane so tightly that her knuckles whitened, "just forget I ever—"
"I'd love to", Michiru interrupted her, prompting her to stop moving and to turn so she could look at the smaller woman, now her turn to be surprised, "and I don't mind where we are going or what we will do. I'd just love to go out with you, Haruka."
"Oh", the blonde gave back, not all too smart, "um, okay then… So… Let's leave at seven?"
For a moment, Michiru was reminded of how the former racer had behaved when she had asked her out for the very first time, not all too long after she had accepted her duty as a Sailor Senshi and had started fighting by her side; she had been just as awkward and insecure back then, stumbling over her own words as she tried to find the courage to ask her fighting partner out to dinner, and the memory made her smile while she nodded, her heart soaring to the skies with happiness.
"Okay, good", Haruka said with a slight smile of her own, "looking forward to it…"
"Me too", Michiru reassured her, fighting down the urge to rush over to her and hug her – even if she just had been asked out on a date by the woman she loved so much and wanted back in her life so much, she knew that rushing things might only lead to the situation between them worsening again, and that was the last thing she wanted.
Still feeling a bit awkward, Haruka gave her a wry smile, then moved back to the table and sat down; taking this as a signal that she had said everything she'd wanted to say, Michiru smiled at her for another moment, then focused on preparing breakfast again, thus turning her back on the blonde, feeling her eyes on her all the time though, smiling to herself happily as she already imagined how pleasant and wonderful their date in the evening would be.
"I really need to thank you", Michiru told Ami over the phone an hour later, in the solitude of her small art room, smiling to herself when the blue-haired girl let out a vaguely questioning noise in reply, giving her best to not sound too gleeful as she explained the reason for her gratitude.
"Haruka asked me out in the morning, for later today", she let the other water Senshi know, unable to keep a smile which went from ear to ear off of her face, "I don't know where we'll go or what we'll do, but it was so cute, just like when she asked me out the first time after she became Sailor Uranus…"
"Wow", Ami gave back, impressed, "I never would have thought our talk would have such an effect on her, especially not after some of the verbal lapses Makoto had."
"Hey!" Michiru heard the Senshi in question call out in the background, the indignation in the taller woman's voice making her giggle; Ami took a moment to reassure her girlfriend that it hadn't been meant in any bad way, then returned to the conversation with Michiru, the genuine happiness in her voice making the aqua haired girl smile again.
"Well, congratulations then", the med student said, and Michiru could hear the smile on her face, "let's hope things will go well, then."
"Yes", the violinist agreed at once, "but I'm pretty sure they will, I think Haruka was sincere when she asked me out, and that she wants to patch things up again…"
"I'll cross my fingers for you", Ami let her know, "and so will Makoto. We both think that it's a shame how things are between the two of you now, you always had what we wanted back then when we were still fighting…"
"I know", Michiru replied, a bit wistfully as she thought of those times – each fight had come with the risk of any of them getting hurt or even killed, but still, they had been so happy even then, cherishing each moment they could spend in peace and enjoying the few rare times during which they could act just as any other normal couple would.
"And I want that back", she added after another moment, "even if it was my fault that—"
"It wasn't", Am interrupted her, a hint of harshness in her voice which made the aqua haired girl raise an eyebrow, even though Ami couldn't see that, "you need to stop blaming yourself for this. Apparently, Haruka has managed to do so, so why can't you?"
"Because it was me who caused it all", Michiru insisted, "at first when I called her while she was driving and then when…"
"You did what you had to do", the other water Senshi told her, her voice kinder now, but still insisting, "just remember what the doctor said."
Holding back a sigh, Michiru did just that, thinking back to the moment Haruka's doctor had forced her to make one of the hardest decisions of her life, a slight frown creasing her brow as she still remembered everything so well, from the sound of the elder man's voice to the beeping of the machines surrounding her comatose lover and the smells which had dominated in the hospital.
"There are some unforeseen… complications", the elder man let her know, the name tag on his white lab coat identifying him as Dr Kateino, "decisions need to be made, Kaioh-san, and since your partner is not able to make them…"
"What's wrong?" Michiru wanted to know, feeling how Usagi grasped her hand and held it, but not looking at her – ever since Haruka had ended up in the hospital, she never had been alone with her, one of the other Senshi always with her, giving the quiet support and strength she needed to handle the situation her lover was in.
"Unfortunately", the doctor started his explanation in reply, "as you know, shortly after Tenoh-san's admittance to this hospital, an infarction occurred in the thigh artery of her right leg."
"Yes", Michiru nodded, shuddering at the mere memory of how hectically the doctors and nurses had acted when this had been discovered, "but you managed to… fix that, right?"
"We did", Kateino confirmed, "but unfortunately, as we found during the last examination of your spouse, it was discovered and removed too late to prevent any follow up damage."
"What's wrong, then?" Michiru demanded to know, getting tired of how this man was beating around the bush, "tell me! What do you need me to decide?"
"The infarction stopped the blood flow to the thigh muscle", the doctor explained in reply, to the violinist's exasperation still not getting to the point, "which unfortunately resulted in muscle death. You surely understand that we have to act fast, before the deadened muscle might end up poisoning your partner, for lack of a better term."
"What do you usually do if this happens?" Usagi was the one to answer now since Michiru had been shocked into silence, giving the hand of the elder woman a reassuring squeeze, holding the doctor's gaze when it moved to her.
"Muscle death is very rare", Kateino told her, "as far as I know, it has never been treated in this hospital before. Most of the cases we looked up on this issue used amputation as treatment."
"What?!" Michiru nearly snapped, torn out of her shock by those words, "no! There's no way I'll let you cut off her leg! Isn't there any other way…?"
"A new procedure", Kateino let her know, his calm demeanour infuriating the violinist – here this man stood, telling her that maybe, he'd need to cut off her partner's leg, and spoke about it as if Haruka had merely stubbed her toe and just needed a band-aid to be fine again.
"It has only been used once before, to my knowledge", the elder man went on, "in America, and that was last year, so there are no studies about long-time effects yet. It involves merely removing the dead tissue instead of the entire limb. Please keep in mind that this is a highly delicate procedure and will result in loss of use of the leg, and also might cause chronic pain for your partner."
"So we if do nothing, she'll die", Michiru summed up in reply, swallowing heavily, "and all you can do is either cut off her leg or remove the dead muscle… But she'd keep her leg then?"
"Most likely, unless something goes wrong during the procedure", the doctor nodded, finally showing some emotion by giving her a sympathetic look as he went on, "and I know that this is a hard decision to make, Kaioh-san, but we need one quickly, before too much damage can be done by the dead muscle."
"Remove it", Michiru told him tonelessly after a minute of thinking about this, "don't… don't amputate, I'll sign anything you want me to, just make sure she can keep her leg…"
"We'll do our best", Kateino reassured her, "I'll send a nurse with the paper work over soon. Thank you for deciding so quickly, Kaioh-san."
All the aqua haired girl could do was nod in reply, and Usagi squeezed her hand once more while the doctor left the room, the door closing behind him, silence filling the room again as the two Senshi studied the comatose form of Haruka, Michiru trying her hardest to convince herself that she had done the right thing now, not having an idea yet about how this decision would end up affecting her life and Haruka's.