"Here", Michiru said fifteen minutes later, entering the room with a glass of water, the bottle of painkillers and the hated cane in hands, "maybe you should take two just this once, it's really bad, isn't it?"

"…yes", Haruka admitted from her position on the bed, a pillow propped up against the headboard so she could sit upright, her gaze briefly darkening as it fell on the cane; then, Michiru was handing the painkillers to her, and she momentarily forgot about it, only looking forward to the sweet relief the pills would bring, quickly washing them down with the water the aqua haired girl had provided.

Now that the most urgent need of the blonde had been taken care of, Michiru just stood there awkwardly for a few moments, not sure if she should leave or if Haruka would be alright with her staying; then, she realized that her partner's face still was glistening with sweat and simply told the taller woman she'd be right back, glad when Haruka just nodded and didn't tell her off.

Quickly, before the former racer might change her mind, Michiru hurried back into the kitchen; there, she found a clean salad bowl in one of the cupboards, filling it with cool, but not too cold water, making a quick detour for the bathroom before she returned to the bedroom, where Haruka still sat on the bed, now staring out of the window, absent-mindedly massaging her thigh the way the doctor had told her to. Seeing her do this reminded Michiru of the fact that she had been taught how to do that massage as well, before it had become clear that Haruka didn't want her to touch her anymore; she swallowed heavily at the memory, then pushed it aside, making herself smile calmingly at the blonde as she put the bowl down on the nightstand, then sat down on the edge of the bed and dipped the washcloth into the water, momentarily hesitating again – before she told herself not to be silly and started to run the cloth over the blonde's face, gently washing the sweat off her cheeks and forehead.

Without even fully realizing what she was doing, Haruka closed her eyes, a small sigh escaping her, so soft that Michiru barely heard it; smiling again, the aqua haired girl continued her tender treatment, even going on when she had finished cleaning the blonde's face, her heart soaring to the skies when after a minute, Haruka leaned into the touch with yet another sigh, nearly tempting Michiru to drop the washcloth and caress her directly from skin to skin, an impulse she could fight down at the last second though, telling herself that surely, this would lead to the former racer pushing her away yet again.

"There", she finally made herself say, pulling the cloth back at last, even though she still longed to feel Haruka's skin beneath her fingertips, "all better now?"

Letting out some vaguely agreeing noise, the blonde opened her eyes again, her gaze meeting Michiru's; for a few moments, the two just looked at each other, and during that short span of time, Haruka was as close to apologizing for her behaviour as she never had been before, for the first time fully realizing how much Michiru had put up with from her and how well she still took care of her, despite everything.

Then, a fresh flash of pain ran from her thigh through her leg, and she flinched, the movement only increasing the ache, and the anger and bitterness was back, pushing any thoughts of apologies out of her mind, the aqua haired girl noticing how she clenched her fists as she glared down on her leg, a look which surely should have been directed at her.

"Haruka…" she started, nearly flinching back when the taller woman's gaze came up again, still filled with anger and bitterness at her situation, but still not letting this stop her, even though she had said the next words a thousand times already, to no avail, "I'm sorry…"

She reached out, touching the blonde's hand; this time, she did pull back though, the indifference back in her voice when she replied, each word sending bits and pieces of barbed wire through the violinist's heart.

"Stop apologizing", Haruka told her in a cold voice, the tender moment they had shared just minutes ago apparently forgotten, "it doesn't change anything, and it doesn't help."

"I'm…", Michiru started, then fell silent as she realized how close she had been to apologizing yet again; fighting back tears, she threw the washcloth into the bowl of water, then snatched it up from the nightstand and came to her feet, telling Haruka in a hoarse and trembling voice that she should just call for her, should she need anything.

Not even bothering to answer this with a nod or any other admittance that she had heard her, Haruka stared down on her ruined leg again in reply; Michiru looked at her for another moment, then turned to leave the room, thus not noticing how the blonde's gaze moved up again, taking in how Michiru's shoulders were slumping down and how her hands trembled, enough to make the water in the bowl splash slightly.

"Michiru…" she started before she could stop herself, the violinist freezing at the sound of her partner's voice; then, she slowly turned around to look at the former racer again, but the words Haruka had wanted to say died on her lips, the gratitude and guilty conscience she briefly had felt once again forced aside by much more negative feelings.

"…nothing", she thus mumbled, looking down on her leg yet again; Michiru studied her for another moment, wondering what she had been wanting to say, then shrugged it off and left the room, gently closing the door behind herself, only allowing the tears to fall once she could be sure Haruka wouldn't notice anything of them anymore.


"Yeah, she tried to walk without the cane and ended up on the carpet, in so much pain that she couldn't even get up anymore", Michiru told Ami on the phone quite some time later, in the privacy of her small art room where no one ever disturbed her, not even Hotaru, "if I hadn't gone to look how she's doing, who knows how long she might have sat up there… Can you perhaps talk to her? She might listen to you…"

"I doubt it", Ami sighed on her end of the line, not really sure why Michiru was asking her – since they were both water Senshi, they always had gotten along quite well, and she'd never had any problems per se with Haruka, either, but never had been as close to the blonde as she was to her partner.

"But if you really want me to, I'll try", she added after another moment, not wanting to upset Michiru with a decline, considering all the violinist had gone through and still was struggling with since the accident, "maybe the fact that now, I'm a med student will help…"

"Who knows", Michiru sighed, thankful that the blue haired girl had agreed, "maybe you can explain to her why this had to be done… The doctor tried, and so did I, but, well…"

"I'll try", Ami reassured her once more, "just tell me when you want to be there and I'll come over."

"Thanks", Michiru gratefully gave back, then asked how Makoto was doing, even though she felt a pang of envy when Ami reassured her that everything was going well between the taller Senshi and her; it hadn't been long since they had found each other, but it was obvious to everyone that they were as happy as Haruka and she had been, in the wonderful weeks and months between the defeat of Galaxia and the accident.

"I'll tell her you said hi", Ami now let her know, clearly figuring out as well that Michiru wouldn't be exactly happy to hear about her relationship bliss with Makoto, "and see you soon."

"Yes, see you soon", Michiru gave back, then said her goodbye and ended the call; she stared at the phone for a few more moments, then put it aside, looking at the blank canvas on her easel afterwards, the white surface not calling to her anymore as it had before it all had gone to Hell – ever since she had finally received the call from the hospital, she hadn't painted a single line, and she wasn't sure if she ever would again.

Sighing to herself, she glanced at the jar in which she kept her paintbrushes and at the various colours right next to it; before the accident, just looking at her palette would have inspired her, but now, all she felt was dull emptiness where her inspiration had been before Haruka had wrecked her car and the hospital had called her with the dire news that…

"Haruka's in a coma", Michiru told the just recently arrived Inner Senshi, briefly amazed at how calm and controlled she sounded, "she missed a red traffic light and a delivery van crashed into her car… It's a wreck and she's…"

Her carefully maintained composure slipped, and she pressed one hand to her mouth in an attempt to stifle her sob, squeezing her eyes shut to hold back her tears; and then Usagi was there, hugging her and rubbing her back and telling her that it would be okay, the rest of the small group forming a cluster around her moments later, making agreeing and calming noises.

"She'll be fine", Usagi repeated, showing surprising maturity as she held the crying Senshi of the sea close, "you know she'll be fine, she's so strong, she won't let this bring her down…"

"Kaioh-san?" a serious voice interrupted her before she could go on reassuring her about how Haruka would be fine, prompting Michiru to pull back from the embrace and look at the man who had spoken with red-rimmed eyes, an elder man in a white coat which identified him as a doctor, his gaze as serious as his voice had been.

"Please tell me she'll be alright", Michiru nearly pleaded the moment her gaze met his, all dignity and elegance forgotten with her lover on the brink of death, "please… I…"

"I can't tell you for sure yet", the doctor replied, gesturing at one of the chairs in the waiting area, a gesture the aqua haired girl ignored though, "unfortunately, Tenoh-san was injured quite seriously in the accident, we can't make any predictions yet, it would be mere guesswork…"

"Can I see her?" Michiru whispered in reply, relieved when the doctor nodded; he asked her to follow him, making it her turn to nod, and together, they walked down the hallway to the room they had put Haruka in after she'd gotten out of the ER, Michiru's heart beating faster with each step as she asked herself if her lover would be okay and if she'd ever be held in those strong arms again.