In the next morning, Haruka was the first to wake up, torn out of her sleep by the throbbing pain in her leg, as it happened every day; next to her, Michiru still was slumbering soundly, once again making the blonde ponder why they actually still were sleeping in the same bed, not having touched each other or even seen each other naked for the last six months, ever since she…

She grimaced at the painful thoughts, then forced them aside, not wanting to linger on what had happened to her; with a low grunt, she sat up in the bed, the movement being enough to intensify the pain in her leg, and she grit her teeth while she reached for the pill bottle on the nightstand, swallowing one of them dry, by now not needing water anymore to wash them down.

Frowning, she looked at the contents of the bottle afterwards, realizing that she'd need to have it refilled soon; holding back a sigh, she put the bottle back on the nightstand, then grabbed the cane, once again realizing how much she hated to be so depending of the wooden stick as she got out of bed, gritting her teeth when the pain in her leg intensified yet again, despite her putting most of her weight on the cane instead of on the damaged limb.

Grunting under her breath, Haruka made her way out of the bedroom and to the adjoined bathroom; she could hear noises of activity coming from the kitchen, accompanied by the voices of Setsuna and Hotaru, the two chatting idly as they prepared breakfast together. For a moment, Haruka stopped in front of the shower, listening to the voices of her housemates, thinking back to a time when she would have joined them happily and eagerly; now though, she was happiest when they left her alone, not wanting them to see her more than absolutely necessary.

Briefly, she closed her eyes and took in a deep breath, then moved to sit on the edge of the bathtub to take off her pyjama, needing both hands to do so and knowing that standing on her ruined leg without the cane wasn't really an option – God knew that she had tried more than once, even after her doctor had repeatedly told her that it wouldn't support her weight anymore, and she had ended up on all fours each time, gritting her teeth against the horrendous pain and fighting down tears of humiliation and hurt.

Damn you, Michiru, she thought to herself as she pulled the pyjama top over her head, then carelessly tossed it aside; and then, she had to remove her pants and boxers, as always avoiding to let her eyes fall on the nasty looking scar on her upper leg, not wanting to see the hardened white tissue and the malformed flesh beneath it.

Leaning on the cane heavily again, she took the two steps to the shower, glaring at the seat which had been installed in it just for her; this accommodation, just one of many which had been made after the incident, only made it all too clear to her that she was a cripple now, unable to do the things she had done and loved before it all had happened, not even able to live her every day life the way she had before.

Gritting her teeth yet again, she held on to the shower door as she leaned the cane against the wall, then entered the shower and sat down, stretching out her leg, still avoiding to look at the traces of the damage which had been done to it; and even though she gave her best not to do it, she found herself thinking back yet again, to the moment her life hadn't only been changed, but ruined, all her dreams and ambitions shattered within the blink of an eye.

The meeting was scheduled in an hour, and she'd been looking forward to it all day – if she'd manage to convince the sponsor she'd meet soon of her talent and skill, he'd be the one who'd supply the amount still needed to let her get into the highest leagues of professional racing, something she had been working for with all her energy ever since Galaxia had been defeated and they had peace and time to pursue their dreams.

Even though she knew that she should be nervous about such an important meeting, Haruka was relaxed and calm as she steered her convertible through the streets of Tokyo, just driving for the fun of it before she'd have to go to the café and meet the man; she had enough confidence in her abilities to know that she'd easily convince the possible sponsor to invest his money into her career, smirking to herself as she already thought of the racing car she'd get, already looking forward to driving said car, barely able to wait for taking control over the vehicle and show everyone just how good she was.

The ringtone of her cell phone started to blare from her pocket, distracting her from those pleasant thoughts; slowing the car slightly, Haruka removed one hand from the steering wheel to get the phone out, briefly glancing at the display, a smile curling her lips when she saw that it was Michiru calling her, the mere thought of her partner and lover making her heart beat faster.

"Hey, Sweetie", she greeted her, momentarily wondering if it wouldn't be smarter to stop the car, then deciding against it, "what's up?"

"Nothing special, just wanted to hear your voice", Michiru let her know, and she could practically hear the smile on her face; she chuckled lowly, and then Michiru was saying something but she couldn't hear her anymore because the frantic honking drowned out her voice, startling her, making her glance to the right, just in time to see the delivery van approach at high speed, the terrified look on the driver's face, her eyes going wide as the phone slipped out of her hand and then…

She let out a low groan as a shudder ran through her at the memory of the pain and the shock; clenching her fist, she brought it down hard on her thigh, nearly crying out at the fresh pain this caused to shoot through her leg, all the way from her hip down to the ankle.

"Damn you", she mumbled under her breath again, clenching her fist so tight that her nails bit into her palm; for a moment, she felt like crying, then managed to swallow her tears, setting her jaw as she fully pushed those thoughts aside and focused on her morning hygiene, not willing to dwell on the seconds which had ruined her life any longer.


When she entered the kitchen quite some time later, now dressed in clothing more suitable for meeting other people than her pyjama's, Setsuna was already gone, probably having retreated to her room to work on her latest fashion designs; Hotaru was still there, sitting at the kitchen table and reading the morning newspaper while she ate her cereal and drank her cocoa.

"Haruka-papa", she greeted the blonde as she entered, putting the paper down and smiling at the tall blonde; almost automatically, Haruka smiled back at her, the only person in this household whom she still treated as she had before the incident, "how are you today?"

"As always", the former racer let her know, giving her best to sound casual as she moved over to the coffee machine, glad to see that Setsuna had made fresh coffee before she had retreated to her room; opening the cupboard right above the machine, she got out a clean cup, placing it on the counter before she made her way to the fridge and opened it, only to freeze in place when Michiru's voice came up behind her.

"Good morning", the violinist greeted, looking at the taller woman's back, noticing how Haruka's fingers tightened around the handle of her cane at hearing her voice; she let out an unarticulated grunt in response to the greeting, which was more than Michiru usually got from her, Hotaru giving her a short, but dismayed look before she smiled at the aqua haired girl, giving her best to sound cheerful when she replied in a more proper way. "Good morning Michiru-mama, how are you?"

"Been better", Michiru replied at once, her gaze never leaving Haruka; if the blonde noticed, she decided to ignore it though, simply removing the milk from the fridge at last and making her way back to the counter, the violinist's heart clenching up yet again at the other woman's limping steps and the way she had to lean on the cane to move through the room.

"Haruka", she addressed her directly after a moment, momentarily glad when at least, Haruka looked at her in response, the coffee can in her grip hovering over the empty cup, "Makoto-chan called while you were in the bathroom, they're all meeting at her house, she wanted to know if you're coming, too…"

"Why should I", the blonde replied rather harshly, the tone of her voice making Hotaru wince before she gave Michiru a concerned look, worried about how her surrogate mother would react to this, "I'm not really part of the team anymore, am I."

"They're still your friends", the aqua haired girl reminded her, giving her best to keep her voice calm and to not let it show how much that response had hurt her, reminding her of yet another thing she had cost Haruka, "and it's not about our duties, just friends meeting…"

"I can't", Haruka still refused to join the gathering, "I have work to do. But you can say Hi to them from me if you want to."

"…alright", Michiru agreed after a moment, asking herself if Haruka would have gone, had she said she wouldn't; then, she realized that even then, the blonde would have declined, still not wanting anyone to see her in her crippled state more than absolutely necessary, and a mere gathering of friends surely didn't count as a necessity for her anymore.

"I'll take my phone along", she let the blonde know, more to break the uncomfortable silence which was forming than to really inform her, "so, if you need anything, just call me…"

"I don't think that'll be necessary", Haruka replied coldly, making Hotaru wince once more, "you've done more than enough."

The words had the same effect a physical blow might have had, the violinist flinching visibly – before she nodded, swallowing with obvious difficulty, tears still glistening in her eyes when she looked up again, despite her hard tries to hold them back.

"And I'm sorry", she told the taller woman, "I never wanted…"

"I got work to do", Haruka interrupted her, still not willing to listen to her, "and I don't want to be disturbed."

"Haruka-papa", Hotaru started, but one look from Michiru was enough to make her fall quiet; she watched unhappily how her papa snatched up the coffee cup, then left the kitchen and made her way upstairs, the thumping sounds her cane produced on the carpeted and wooden floor echoing through the quiet house until the door leading to her office fell close behind her.