A/N: Wow feels like it's been forever since I updated; I felt completely guilt ridden, but wanted to make sure I had the right direction this chapter.
Admittedly, it's a bit more sad, I apologize. But to get the happy endings, gotta go through a bit of grief! Hang in there folks. We're just starting the build-up now. I hope everyone has been having a great start to the New Years; enjoy reading, and please review if you have the chance. Thank you!
They were at a stalemate; Michiru knew this, though her partner seemed blissfully unaware. Weeks had passed since Haruka had experienced her terrifying premonitions, and it seemed all possible development with this secondary objective had ceased altogether.
Maybe she's right; we're making something of nothing.
She was a woman of grace, beauty, intellect, talent, and so much more; doubt was something she thought would never be among these defining traits, but lately she found herself plagued with uncertainty. Her Haruka on the other hand, seemed completely at ease with the situation, and this bothered the sea, visibly.
As she walked to her destination, she walked with the notable absence of the wind. Haruka had felt the need to relieve some stress at the track, which was convenient for Michiru's intended plan. Oftentimes, the violinist would take a place in the stands and watch the wind at her finest. Today, the sea was on a mission.
She walked to the patio seating of the coffee shop, greeting her green haired friend who had already established herself.
"Setsuna, thank you for meeting with me; I knew you would understand." Michiru said, offering a small polite bow of thanks. To this, the time guardian smiled gently, and returned the polite action.
"Where's your companion today?" Setsuna asked thoughtfully, the two of them taking seats as she spoke.
Michiru and Haruka often amused themselves with Setsuna's questions; asking when she already knew the answers she sought. 'There's no point in keeping anything, be it sexual or not, from Setsuna; she's already well versed on our dirty secrets without asking.' Michiru smiled to herself, reminiscing on the memory of Haruka's comment.
They had considered the possibility of seeking Setsuna's advice on the basis of their relationship, but came to several different reasons against the idea. The primary being Setsuna's keen awareness of just about everything, especially related to her outer soldier companions, and secondly; as much closeness as they felt with Setsuna, they could genuinely care less other's opinions or approvals of their relationship. If the time guardian truly had an issue to address regarding the nature of their relationship, the sea and wind would note it, discard it, and move on.
The aquamarine haired woman shook herself out of her trance, minding the company she had. "Haruka wanted some time to go to the track today; ease a bit of tension." She missed the company of her love, but respected the need for the blonde to challenge her element. "Oh that's interesting…" Setsuna mused, taking a sip from her coffee. "Haruka has seemed to present the image, forcefully, in my mind that you two take up other activities to…" Michiru blushed, furiously at this. "Haruka…" She was sure the blonde had done just the thing; 'forced' the image, as she often did with the young inner soldiers. Those poor girls...
Setsuna laughed, regarding Michiru's embarrassment. "Well I won't finish that, but you see where I'm going with it I'm sure." Michiru shook her head, attempting to rid herself of the appearance of her beet red face.
Letting her amusement subside, Setsuna reset the tone of the conversation. "Although I always enjoy yours and Haruka's company, I'm sensing this is not purely a social call."
This reminded Michiru why she had contacted Setsuna in the first place; the time guardian expected the call eventually, knowing one of the other two outer soldiers' would contact her regarding it.
"Haruka's dreams haven't returned." Michiru's statement confirmed Setsuna's perception; again.
In response, the gate guardian nodded in acknowledgement. "And this…bothers you?" Setsuna figured Michiru of all people should be completely content with the situation. A love that was almost lost between her and her partner had been rekindled and strengthened.
Michiru's gaze did not leave from the woman across the table from her; "It does; and it seems I'm the only one in our partnership that it impacts." Setsuna nodded once more, but disagreed internally on the thought of Haruka not being bothered by the dreams; they had obviously bothered her enough to prevent the possibility of sleep.
"I don't believe that's precise, Michiru." Setsuna responded, devoid of any particular emotion. "You and Haruka perform well with everything; to include how you deceive one another." Michiru was shocked and almost offended at this statement, but would not let her body language or attitudes indicate it.
"Deceive? How do you come to that conclusion?" she asked calmly, genuinely intrigued by Setsuna's words.
"You shield one another from the truth within yourselves; unwilling to burden the other with it." Michiru did not feign ignorance on this; she knew well the context which Setsuna spoke.
Instead, she nodded slowly in agreement. "You're right. Are you proposing that this does bother Haruka then?" While Michiru truly agreed with Setsuna, as both she and Haruka often did, she had a hard time thinking back over the course of the few weeks where Haruka offered worry over the subject.
"It does, I'm certain of it. She's attempting to hide it from you." Setsuna thought on it for a moment, considering an idea. "When is the last time Haruka spoke about experiencing one of these dreams?"
Without hesitating, Michiru immediately thought of the course of one day went from their typical playful flirting, admittance, a falling out, and then again a rekindling; that was the last day Haruka had the dark dream.
"The last time...we had a bit of a falling out several weeks ago. Haruka said you were here that day, in her apartment." Recalling the latter detail as a worrisome one when Haruka and Michiru had entered the blonde's apartment the second time around.
Setsuna again smiled, recalling Haruka's desperate situation to regain Michiru's love and trust. They were, and still remain, so in love with one another. Every love shared between couples was distinctly different from another, but the one the woman in front of her held with her partner was seemingly unreal in its genuine beauty.
"That is a considerable amount of time to pass with no activity; worrisome." Setsuna noted Michiru's concern, agreeing on the disturbing placid nature of things.
"Is there anything we can do? Attempt to trigger them once more?" Michiru asked, though uncertain. The last thing she wanted to do was invoke and re-awake the dormant fear in Haruka. She continued, sighing as she did so, "I just wish Haruka didn't have to act as the…pawn, for all this."
Setsuna shook her head in return. "I don't see what we can do to help progress her premonitions; they'll come, and they'll go. We can only sit idly by and hope they reoccur once more."
Michiru thought again on what Haruka said, as she often did, in relation to their conversation at hand; are we making something of nothing?
"Is it perhaps possible we are searching for answers in a realm that presents none?" Michiru spoke, looking down to the cup of now lukewarm tea she held between her two hands.
"I originally came down here on my last visit, to investigate and interpret Haruka's dreams." Michiru was surprised at this, and did not attempt to mask her expression revealing such. The artist knew if Setsuna truly had come here those weeks ago for said purpose, this threat was something to be seriously considered.
"Although, I understood Haruka had other more pressing concerns on her plate; I let my initial objective be pushed to the side." This surprised and caught Michiru off guard even further; Setsuna was hardly Setsuna most of the time. Her guardian and soldier duties consumed her, and they for the most part considered her Pluto. The only person more consumed with the mission above Haruka, was Sailor Pluto; even the inner soldiers were aware of this, and most everything eluded them.
"That was kind of you to help Haruka…it in turn helped both of us; I don't think what we have would have been possible without your aid." Michiru looked up from her cup, catching Setsuna's gaze once more.
Setsuna smiled lightly at this, "Haruka isn't daft; she would have come to her senses sooner or later; and you have infinite patience. The two of you would still be what you are now without my intervention." Michiru silently disagreed with this, but thought better than to argue with the time guardian now, to prevent further deviation from the matter at hand.
Sensing this, Setsuna resumed where their "business" had paused.
"Haruka know's she's not a pawn; she would help anyway she could, regardless if it required self-inflicted discomfort." The green haired woman spoke, pushing her coffee to the side. Continuing, she leaned back in her chair to assume a more comfortable position.
"A pawn ignorantly submits themselves into the abyss of the unknown for reasons beyond their understanding. Haruka submits herself for the purpose of world preservation; which now focuses greatly around you." Setsuna spoke earnestly, and assuredly. This was why Haruka and Michiru sought the consultation of Setsuna whenever they were truly pressed for answers; with her years of life and experience, her knowledge was an invaluable asset to their small team.
"This does not weaken her; it fills her with a renewed sense of ferocity and purpose. Don't forget that." She sat straight once more, resuming her previous position, resting her hands on the table.
"Thank you Setsuna; you always know the right things to say." Michiru smiled, feeling still somewhat unsure of the initial concern, but reassured at the same time.
"We can only wait further, Michiru. Haruka's dreams cannot be forcefully drawn out; but I will certainly use my resources to find out what, if anything can be done more passively." To this, the two women stood, bidding one another good bye until the next visit.
"I'll try to put this in the back of my mind until you present something different; thank you again." They exchanged bows, as earlier, and parted ways from the coffee shop.
As Setsuna walked away to her pre-determined destination, silently, she had already construed an idea of the necessary actions plausibly required on their part. More specifically, on Michiru's behalf; but she thought it inappropriate to present a harsh option as hers, unless Michiru were to arrive to the same conclusion, on her own.
She's a smart woman…she'll understand soon enough; hopefully, sooner rather than later, thinking on the present state of the universe with the known enemies they already possessed, the time guardian was hardly eager about unveiling a new threat. Yet, she knew this was an avenue they would have to face; and soon.
Approaching the running track at her respective school, she found it to her liking; "Completely empty." The blonde said aloud, knowing it would fall on no ears but her own. She walked towards the track from her car, slightly disappointed she couldn't breeze past any competitors; though they were hardly competitors in her eyes; none of them had the wind as she did.
Haruka Tenoh needed no fuel, power bars, music, crowds; nothing. The wind was her element, and she was determined not to perform anything short due to that.
As she began her trot, into a progressive run on the dirt track, she reflected on her life and how it had transpired over the course of the last few weeks. Wherever her thoughts wandered to, they often drifted back to the same source.
The image of this divine woman in her mind propelled her feet faster and further; expanding her strides even more. If there was any source of motivation for Haruka now, it was Michiru. Where prior to their love, it was her mission; preparation of mind and body was essential for the mission, for the world.
But what of my world? She thought to herself long ago, considering the soldiers were to save the planet from the grips of despair and doom; what would be left for Haruka? Her mission had provided her with so much purpose, fulfillment, and drive…so she had thought.
Reflecting on her own words uttered to her lover, the athlete was well aware now it was Michiru who was her purpose for everything; prior to her, her mission didn't even exist. Her profession and desire to become the most renowned racer in the world was surely a driving force; but it couldn't compare to the overwhelming urge and desire this siren of hers placed in her.
An urge to protect her, and everywhere she was. A desire to be always by her side, hand in hand, as not just a couple shackled together, but two lovers permanently attuned to the needs and wants of the other.
Yet, as blissful and complacent as she presented on the outside, internally, she worried immensely about the state of the world.
She was the only person truly aware of the terrifying power of her dreams, and had attempted to present the façade that they no longer concerned her; Haruka believed she had genuinely convinced her partner of this, and was happy with that sole factor.
The only person that needs to experience this terror is me. Haruka understood there would be a time when it would involve not just her counterpart, but the other soldiers as well; yet as eager as she was to delve further into her dreams to uncover the purpose and intent, she was no closer to uncovering it than her partner was.
The racer ran for miles within a relatively short time, but yearned for the presence and companionship of her other half.
Just as quickly as she had started, she had concluded her run; feeling more at ease, but renewed with a sense of eagerness to see her partner.
Michiru walked into the apartment her and Haruka now shared, sat her bag down at the entrance, then proceeded to the kitchen.
She was eager to see the blonde, as she always was. It mattered not if her partner simply went to the kitchen or something of equivalent distance, upon Haruka's return Michiru's heart always fluttered; it was an undeniable girlish trait of hers, graceful as Michiru Kaioh was, she too was susceptible to the racer's handsome looks and charming personality.
Her thoughts suddenly turned morbid, as on her walk back to their apartment, Michiru had further time to consider the conversation with Setsuna.
What could we do to draw back Haruka's dreams? She considered the question on the entire walk back. It seemed silly to further think on it, as Setsuna had offered some temporary closure to it, but Michiru was overwhelmed by a connection she observed.
Haruka experienced those night terrors when she wasn't in the presence of Michiru; she had made this clear to the violinist. Michiru considered an idea, but she knew the blonde wouldn't be very welcoming to it; the thought of it didn't sit well even for Michiru.
I have to leave Haruka. It was plain, simple, and had been staring her in the face all these weeks of wondering. Whether it was true that these dreams only developed as a result of Haruka being in the presence of Michiru, was just a hypothesis; but there was only one way to know.
Michiru's thoughts were interrupted with the opening of the front door; what timing her taller companion had.
Haruka smiled at the other woman, feeling completely reassured of any doubts. She always had this mesmerizing presence to her, making Haruka completely dismiss any previous thoughts. Eventually they'd resurface, but the initial impact knocked her out of whatever thoughts she'd been entertaining.
"How was coffee with Setsuna? Even though you don't like coffee." Haruka walked to the shorter woman, pecking her on the cheek quickly before taking her into her arms for an embracing hold.
How could I even fathom leaving Haruka? Michiru thought, placing herself in the zone of uncertainty and doubt once more.
"They have tea as well, Haruka." Haruka pulled Michiru from her chest and looked at her incredulously; comparing their traditional Japanese tea to the "tea" produced from the westernized coffee shops seemed out of line.
To correct herself before Haruka pounced with her own rebuttal, Michiru quickly offered "I didn't say it was good tea, Haruka…but if I'm there, I'd prefer it to coffee."
Haruka backed her attack she was preparing as Michiru's clarifying statement. "Well as long as we both agree its garbage." Michiru smiled, nodding in agreement. She hardly looked for the enjoyment of the beverage, and more so for Setsuna's consultation; whether the tea was good or not seemed hardly of relevance. But, she played along with her mate; anything to avoid drifting her thoughts back to what she pondered prior to Haruka's entrance.
Haruka took to leaning up with her back against the counter, arms folded against her chest. Her body language suggested confrontation, but her face rejected any ideas of such; she appeared calm.
"What's on your mind?" the blonde asked, noting her partner's thoughtful appearance.
So much for that, she thought dejectedly.
The violinist almost regretted even bringing it up, but she desired to know whether Haruka shared the same thoughts as her on this matter.
"Setsuna really provided some insight to me, as she always does." The smaller woman started, leaning with her back Haruka, allowing her arms to embrace her once more. She knew she should face the taller woman for this particular conversation, so they could read one another's face, but she felt much too comfortable as she was.
There was a pause, as Haruka permitted Michiru the chance to follow up what she had stated with something more. She knew there was more.
"I think I need to leave." Michiru regretted the words as soon as they left her mouth, but knew it was too late to retract them.
At this, Haruka gently turned the violinist in her arms to face her. She studied her face, attempting to understand the context of the words the smaller woman had just uttered. Based on her expression; she knew it was serious, and she knew Michiru would not back down.
"Why?" Haruka let her arms drop to her sides, quickly bringing them back to her chest, folded once more. The expression on her face this time reflected not of anger, but hurt.
Michiru shook her head, knowing well what Haruka thought already. "It's nothing you've done, I promise. All I can say is it's something we need to do." Michiru attempted to steel herself, wanting to reject the wave of emotions that overcame her.
"If you think its best, Michiru. You know where the door is. I'll be here." The words she murmured left with an icy chill to them. Haruka turned her gaze from the woman in front of her, looking instead to somewhere else on the counter.
It was clear to Michiru there was little else to be spoken between them; Michiru wished she could explain the rationale behind her actions, but to do so would compromise the intent of the "experiment". By Haruka thinking Michiru would return, the proper environment for Haruka to possibly experience her premonitions could not be simulated the same.
This is the way it has to be, she thought to herself. She kissed the tall blonde on the turned cheek, walking herself out of their apartment, gathering her bag en route.
"I love you Haruka." The aquamarine haired woman left the racer with this, which made the blonde completely crumble against the counter.
The door shut, and to Haruka, so had the briefest and happiest chapter of her life. She was beyond understanding right now, as grief consumed her. She would not permit herself to shed a tear; Haruka knew there was an underlying reason to this behavior of Michiru's.
The blonde took a hand through her locks, leaning with her other arm against the kitchen countertop.
She shook her thoughts off, and stood straight, walking to the closet and grabbing a coat. "She doesn't get to leave that easy." The racer spoke aloud, thinking outloud to herself.
"Haruka." A voice uttered in her apartment.
Haruka didn't need to guess; she already knew."Your timing, as usual Setsuna, is impeccable. Please excuse me." She skipped the pleasantries beyond the greeting, before hurriedly walking to her door; but she was blocked by Setsuna.
The green haired guardian shook her head in disagreement with what the blonde was about to do. "Don't, Haruka. Let her go."
This seemed completely absurd to Haruka; they had pledged their lives to each other. Given themselves to one another.
Why the hell would I let that go? This made Haruka think on Michiru's departing words; 'I love you'. It rang in her head, placing Haruka in awe. She was determined not to let this woman leave her side.