"Yes, I will", Michiru just was saying on the phone as Haruka entered the living room another three days later, the thumping of her cane on the carpet having already announced her before Michiru spotted her in the doorway, immediately smiling as her gaze met the taller woman's, "see you soon then. Take care until then. Of course, you too. Bye!"
With the last word, she put the receiver down, then moved over to the blonde and put both arms around her waist, her smile widening when at once, Haruka returned the embrace, sounding slightly curious when she asked whom Michiru had been talking to.
"Makoto-chan", Michiru let her know in reply, "it's the one year anniversary of Ami and her next week, and she invited us to the celebration in her café."
"Oh", Haruka replied, sounding not all too enthusiastic, but not really surprising Michiru – after all, her reservations about going into public with her cane and her limp still hadn't changed much, no matter how often the aqua haired girl reassured her that the Inner Senshi didn't mind and didn't think any different of her.
"Ami-chan and Makoto-chan really would like you to come", Michiru told her in a soft voice, her hands coming to a tender rest on the blonde's back, "they went all of us to be there when we celebrate their love…"
"Just like our four year anniversary party, huh", Haruka gave back with a weak smirk; nodding, Michiru smiled back much heartier, caressing the taller woman's back tenderly as she replied. "Yes, just like that… That was fun, wasn't it?"
"Yeah, except for when Minako-chan got the idea that she should have hired a stripper", Haruka replied, rolling her eyes and making Michiru laugh as she remembered how Minako had snatched up the phone to do just that and how the other Inners had tried to stop her, succeeding after quite a bit of squabbling and struggling, to the relief of both Haruka and Michiru.
"Let's hope she won't get such an idea this time", she giggled, making the former racer smirk slightly again while she nodded; then, her face grew serious again though, making it obvious to Haruka that her not so brilliant tries to steer the conversation away from her joining the party hadn't really worked out.
"Seriously, though", Michiru confirmed that suspicion, looking up at her sincerely, "they'd really love you to come. And I'll be there with you the whole time, you know you can do this, Ruka…"
Under different circumstances, if this had been about anything else than meeting the Inner Senshi, the pet name might have been enough to push Haruka over the edge and make her agree; since she now again was painfully aware of her damaged leg though, of the cane she depended on and the laborious walk which had been forced upon her, the taller woman merely let out a sigh instead of agreeing, giving her partner a slightly dismayed look afterwards.
"I can't promise anything", she then let the violinist know, at least not declining outright, "but I'll think about it. I got a lot of work to do, you know…"
"I know", Michiru reassured her, even though she knew that the work Haruka was talking about was merely an excuse – her little one-man-agency was going well, but she hadn't taken on so many clients that she had to work day and night to take proper care of them all, "just tell me when you made up your mind. I'd be happy if you could make it, though…"
"I'll think about it", Haruka repeated, even though it broke her heart that she couldn't give Michiru the answer she wanted to hear; ever since they had patched things up between them, all she wanted was to make the violinist happy, and the fact that she couldn't grant her this request, simple as it was, made her curse fate and the accident and her messed up leg all over again, bringing a hint of her old bitterness back to her soul as she let out another sigh.
"I won't be angry or disappointed or anything if you decide not to go", Michiru let her know, momentarily surprising her with how well she was reading her, "but as I said, I'd be really glad if you'd go there with me…"
Not wanting to tell her that she'd think about it for a third time, Haruka just nodded; the smaller woman smiled up at her, then stood at the tips of her toes for a brief kiss, the feeling of the violinist's lips on hers once again sending the former racer's heartbeat through the roof and making her wonder how she had managed to live six months without this amazing sensation.
"Enough talk about anniversaries and meeting the Inners now", Michiru decided after the kiss, to Haruka's obvious relief, "is there any particular reason you came downstairs? Do you need anything?"
"Nah", the blonde shrugged, "just decided I'd take a break and see what my lovely girlfriend is up to."
"How sweet", Michiru sighed, touched by the taller woman's words – before the accident, such things hadn't been rare between them, but ever since they had started to patch their relationship up, she cherished and treasured each of these moments even more than she had before.
Smirking down on her, Haruka shrugged, then bent down for another kiss; and afterwards, she changed the topic to a more mundane one by asking her partner what she had planned for dinner, the aqua haired girl eagerly telling her, already looking forward to her whole family assembled around the dining table again, just the way it was supposed to be.
"So I'll have to go to the track tomorrow, there's no way to avoid it", Haruka told the other three during dinner with a roll of her eyes; despite the exaggerated annoyance she was displaying, Michiru smiled slightly, knowing very well that just a few weeks ago, the thought of going to the racetrack would have caused cold sweat to break out all over her partner's body.
"I already can picture it", Haruka went on, rolling her eyes yet again, "they'll all be melodramatic about my return and make cheesy statements about how it's not the same without me."
"Don't be mean, Haruka-papa", Hotaru scolded at once, shaking her head at her father's behaviour, "what if they really mean it?"
"They probably do", Setsuna commented before the former racer could reply anything, "because I kept an eye on them, and their winning streak ended when you had to leave."
"Thanks, that makes me feel so much better", Haruka dryly gave back, and for a moment, Michiru felt like snapping at Setsuna for being so thoughtless – before she saw the amused twinkle in her partner's eyes and realized that it was yet another instance of playful banter between the Senshi of time and space and the taller woman, making it her turn to roll her eyes.
"Are you gonna drive there yourself?" she asked the tall blonde before she had a chance to shoot a remark back and take the conversation on a completely new track; it didn't surprise her that Haruka nodded at once, but what did surprise her was what her partner said next. "I will, but if you want to tag along, you're more than welcome… I know the guys probably missed you too, if only so they can hit on you and annoy me."
"…yes, they always liked doing that", Michiru gave back after a moment of stunned silence – she hadn't expected Haruka to offer taking her along to track so fast, still remembering well how long it had taken the blonde to introduce her to her teammates when they had first started dating, all those years ago, having expected the taller woman to take quite some time again before she'd let her back into this part of her life, no matter if they were patching things up or not.
"So?" Haruka prodded, making her realize she hadn't told her if she wouldn't come along yet, "are you gonna come…?"
"Yes, of course", Michiru let her know at once, smiling, "I'm glad you asked me. It'd be nice to spend time there with you again, and to see all the guys again."
"They'll be thrilled", Haruka smiled, then Hotaru cried out about how she wanted to go too and how unfair it was that she couldn't due to school, prompting Haruka to reach over and ruffle her hair, her voice kind when she promised her that she'd take her to the track on a Saturday to make up for missing the meeting there tomorrow.
"Then, I can also show you around", she sweetened the deal even further, making the little girl smile again, "tomorrow, you'd be bored anyway, all we'll do is talk cars and races."
"But Michiru-mama will be bored, too, then", Hotaru pointed out a fatal flaw in her papa's reasoning, only to make Michiru smile slightly as she reached over to grasp the blonde's hand, her eyes filled with warmth when she was the one to reply to this. "I'm never bored when I'm with Haruka…"
"So much lovey-dovey", Setsuna smirked as the couple beamed at each other, "as I said, it's always from one extreme to the next with the two of you. No middle ground."
"Middle grounds are for pussies", Haruka shot back without thinking, only to clap one hand over her mouth, mortified, when she realized Hotaru was in the room with them; next to her, Michiru gasped, then looked just as horrified while Setsuna fought to hold back laughter and Hotaru just stared, finding it hard to believe that her papa would use such crass language.
"Forget you ever heard that", the blonde hurriedly advised, before Michiru could scold her; still dumbstruck, Hotaru just nodded, then giggled as her papa blushed brightly and her Michiru-mama finally got over her shock enough to start the scolding, Setsuna just rolling her eyes, albeit with a small smile on her face, just as glad as the rest of them that finally, things were back to normal in the Outer Senshi household.