A/N: Not much to say on this one; buuuuut, I imagine most of you were less than happy at the last chapter. Like I said, gotta go through a bit of tragedy to get that happy ending! That's my style anyways. Hang in there!
Disclaimer: Still don't own Sailor Moon or any rights to their property.
"Setsuna, I don't have the time or patience for this." Haruka looked ready to bulldoze Setsuna; yet the woman stood her ground, blocking the door with her body. The fury was prevalent in Haruka's face, but the time guardian could not let the blonde pass her. Haruka was hesitant on it, in spite of her fierce mood, seeing as how Setsuna often guarded a vital gate.
"Think about it Haruka. Michiru needs some space, permit her that." She cautioned Haruka further, attempting to diffuse the tension between them. "She would not ask it of you unless she really needed it."
Damn you Setsuna; Haruka knew the elder woman was right, she was always right. Haruka's face fell with dismay, and once again with hurt. After moments of standing lost in her own thoughts, she resigned to sit on her couch, absorbing the events that had just unraveled.
No matter how many times she tried to fit all together, she couldn't comprehend why everything had transpired the way it had.
"What the hell just happened?" Haruka asked, leaning her head on the back of the couch. She closed her eyes, attempting to block out all sights.
Walking slowly from her position at the door, Setsuna spoke. "Don't over assess the situation, Haruka. She loves you, you heard it yourself. She'll come around, Michiru just needs time." As assured as Haruka typically felt by the time guardian's comments, she felt anything but assured. Her body was twitching in anticipation, agitation, and annoyance. She could easily elude Setsuna, and pursue Michiru; but what if the woman truly wanted nothing with Haruka? It would be pointless; Haruka would look foolish.
Deciding against it, Haruka held her position on the couch. But she knew this would do little to pacify her; a good drive was what she needed. Haruka knew well, with the absence of her artistic siren, sleep would do what it once did and escape her. As she opened her eyes again to survey the apartment, the racer couldn't help but notice the lack of Michiru's presence, or rather lack of evidence she was ever there.
"Setsuna." Haruka called, with an edge of irritation to her voice. Noticing the absence of another presence, Haruka turned her head towards where Setsuna had stood; as quickly as she had snuck in, she had left. This could be an opportunity for Haruka to follow Michiru and attempt to resolve the situation; but Setsuna had left for a reason. She knew Haruka wasn't foolish enough to chase Michiru when her mate called for some time. Haruka respected her partner too much to act against her interests or wishes.
"Setsuna, you must have been a ninja in your former life..." the blonde murmured, not seeking any particular response from the emptiness of her apartment.
Opting instead for a calming drive by the shore, she stood from her spot on the couch walking briskly to the door, grabbing keys from the entryway table. As the blonde let the apartment door close behind her, she shoved one hand in her pocket, letting the words Michiru had uttered in her haste roll around in her head.
She loves me. Still walking to her car, it was a calming thought that seemed to throw everything out of sorts; it completely contradicted the events of the evening to Haruka.
Then she wondered, sensing perhaps she had done something incorrectly to cause the situation.
Should I have returned her words?
Haruka's face was a reaffirmation of what Michiru felt; This is wrong. But how could she back down now? Setsuna had confirmed this was the next best idea that even she had, but was it worth it? To cause the blonde such pain and anguish; she was probably beyond lost right as to what'd happened.
The violinist walked herself through the park she and Haruka often strolled through, bag positioned on her shoulder.
There was no way to avoid it; with Haruka, she was uncertain about everything. Everything but how she felt for her partner; that was absolute, cemented. As much as she disliked the present situation, she knew there was only way one to draw Haruka's dreams. Hopefully her counterpart would understand this, in time.
She shook her head, in severe disagreement of the justification she tried to again replay. Poor Haruka...
This is...depressing, Haruka thought morbidly to herself. She sat on a barstool by her kitchen counter top, head resting on one arm, with the other strewn across the surface. A week had passed since her other half had left, neither bother to contact the other woman. Michiru not wanting to hurt the racer any further, Haruka not wanting to disrespect her partner's request. So they waited.
As difficult as sleep had been for Haruka, she still made the time for it. The only thing that persuaded her to sleep, be it on the counter top, couch, bed, or wherever her head fell, were Michiru's words. More particularly, her profession of love for Haruka. It was the only thing that permitted Haruka to cling on and maintain her sanity and health. Otherwise, all bets were off, and the world was a lost cause no longer worth protecting.
Haruka had ignored her duties, as Michiru was typically her indicator for such things anyhow. However, she had noticed her communicator incredibly silent, so understood the inner soldiers must have had things under control, or understood Haruka's predicament.
As if on cue, a beep could be heard across the room. Normally things that beeped of that annoying nature, Haruka would throw or do whatever to dismiss the unwanted alarm.
"Ugh..." the blonde muttered groggily, gradually pulling herself up from the stool and dragging her form across the room to the origin of the sound. Summoning the notification, Sailor Mercury's voice could be heard; she sounded winded, meaning she and the rest must be en route to their objective.
'Enemy...in park...could use...some assistance...supervision...whatever can be spared!' Haruka chuckled at this, imagining the swimming champion, to be paralleled only by Michiru herself, winded by a bit of cardio. The blonde let her smirk and moment of laughter disappear, and did nothing to acknowledge the request. The girls knew better than to expect it; either they showed up, or they didn't. More often than not, they showed, but unbeknownst to the inner soldiers, they simply waited in the shadows.
Haruka sought out her transformation pen, keeping it handy in the event the girls truly were in need of a proper rescuing; not an entirely new concept to Haruka.
Her face steeled, as she imagined the possibility Michiru had also received the message; but this was their duty. Love, or a lack of it, could not interfere in it. She would be sure to steer clear of her partner.
There is no other choice. Haruka thought grimly; the inner soldiers could very well botch whatever they were seeking to destroy, and the outer soldiers were the fall back to save their hides.
If Ami called, this must be...threatening. The blonde took a moment to look herself over the mirror, and was not keen on what she saw. She shook her head, and quickly made her way to splash some water on her face, hoping to revitalize her fatigued appearance.
Taking a fresh white dress shirt out, she donned it, accompanying her traditional slacks. On her way out, transforming pen in hand, she grabbed the sandy colored coat to match her pants. She had done little to attempt to leave the confines of her apartment in the last few days, lacking the desire to do so. But today, the mission was still being fought; she couldn't ignore it.
Running a hand through her hair, taming the few loose strands that stuck out, Haruka took her keys in hand and departed to the coordinates Ami required assistance at.
"I still have a job to do." Haruka acknowledged to herself, knowing well if she saw Michiru her resolve may weaken slightly. She attempted to put herself in the mindset prior to Michiru's involvement in her life.
Business first. Ladies second.
Leaning against a tree, Haruka looked on the scene of the park; it was dark, the moon was high in the sky; the park was completely devoid of activity, minus the nocturnal animals scurrying about. The tall woman still donned her street attire, as she most often preferred to transform only if she was required...which was often.
She could see the "battlegrounds" just a few yards from her. Close enough to see, far enough to be overlooked.
The natural light of the moon was a mesmerizing one, it was really a breathtaking sight. Although, as much time she wanted to spend gazing at it, she knew one second could determine a life or death outcome; depending on the enemy of course.
Squinting in the dark, the handsome blonde attempted to make out the figure of the enemy. She was certainly close, but she had a hard time believing what she saw.
Eventually, she came to a conclusion. Chuckling out loud to herself, "It's a pansy." Shaking her head, she thought it sounded just as humorous as it looked, probably more. The only reason she knew to distinguish this flower from its other species was in a botany class her and Michiru had taken together. In the beginning, Haruka rolled her eyes at the fact they agreed to register in such a seemingly uninformative class. 'Plants aren't going to save the world; we are' Haruka recalled saying to Michiru; how cold she sounded back then. It seemed a silly and uneducated statement to make considering what a large impact plants made on the world. Although Haruka always encouraged more physical preparation to things than academic; Michiru often disagreed.
"She's harder than she looks." a voice spoke out of the blanket of darkness.
The one place the moon's light doesn't shine...
Haruka's heart skipped a beat, knowing well the owner of the voice without turning her head. She knew if she looked to acknowledge her, Haruka's determination would fail her. Instead, she didn't let her eyes stray from the battlefield; she observed the inner soldiers exchange banter with the "Pansy" enemy.
"I'm sure it's nothing that requires intervention on our behalf." As she said this, the aquamarine haired woman stepped into her partner's sights; her peripherals. "Or mine, anyways."
Haruka could see Michiru disagreed on the fact their action wasn't required; she donned the Sailor Neptune appearance.
"We weren't called to watch, Haruka." Michiru spoke sternly, slowly crossing her arms as she did. She made the intent bold move of walking more into Haruka's sights, ensuring the blonde could recognize the seriousness on her face.
"I was called to supervise. I'm unaware what call you received." Haruka stepped away from the tree she had leaned against, attempting to get Neptune's form out of her view. Instead, she opted for a tree closer to the action, resuming her previous stance against the tree.
Haruka was attempting to show Neptune her indifference towards their situation at present; not animosity. She felt her cold words indicated otherwise; but pushed the personal thoughts she had on Neptune out of her mind, and instead steadied her vision on the field. Of no surprise to Haruka, the girls were still talking to the pansy.
Figures, Haruka thought smirking. Haruka always felt the inner soldiers spent about 75 percent of their battle rhythm talking and chiding the enemy, 20 running in circles (especially if Sailor Moon was there, which she almost always was) and 5 actually disposing of the daimon. Clearly their time management needed a bit of sprucing. They'd get the job done, but Haruka couldn't help but feel the battles could be dealt with far more efficiently.
Moments passed with the silence looming over Neptune and Haruka, and this was how Haruka preferred it.
Finally, a hit. Haruka noted Jupiter, clearly tired of the bickering, lunging towards the daimon; only to be evaded and countered by the pansy. This prompted Haruka to place the palm of one hand against her forehead, but not before rolling her eyes. Sometimes, the inner soldiers were downright painful to watch.
Ugh...we're going to have a serious discussion one of these days when I let these ladies know I actually care; their tactics need some serious renovation.
"Haruka." Neptune called her companion out of her thoughts, with a stern voice still.
"Neptune." Haruka responded in return; removing her hand from her forehead, settling both arms across her chest once more.
"Ami didn't send you the message." This took Haruka back a bit; surprising the blonde, but she refused to let her face betray her.
"So I suppose you did? That's a fancy trick, Neptune." Try as Haruka did, the ice could not leave her words; it was useless to play nice.
Neptune instead nodded, affirming her mate's question. "The communicators messages are easier to modify than you would believe."
Haruka nodded in return, curiosity now gaining the better part of her attention. Moments of silence passed again, prompting Haruka to ask.
"Why am I here then, Neptune? You wanted me here; so here I stand." The racer maintained her arms folded across her chest, but stood without the support of the tree now. Her vision, taken from the battle in front of her, to Michiru.
Michiru almost regretted this; most of it. She loved this woman in front of her, everything about her. This trial Michiru had attempted had seemed to fail considerably; Haruka's lack of communication wasn't the only verification of this, Michiru herself had received no premonitions related to the blonde's dreams. Michiru had caused all this senseless hurt and pain between them; for what?
"A phone call wouldn't do this justice, and I assume you wouldn't respond to a message from me." Haruka shook her head at this, somewhat appalled of the beauty's opinion of Haruka.
"That's not true Michiru." She walked away from Michiru, facing away from the battle. The moonlight's rays shone down on Haruka's back, painting a portrait behind her figure.
"All you had to do was ask; I'd be anywhere. You asked for space, I gave you space." Haruka's voice rang devoid of any emotion, attempting to paint the serious content of her words. These words hurt Michiru, she knew it was all true, and the blame all lay on her.
Attempting to mask the pain again, she spoke further. "You're curious as to why, correct?" It sounded so formal, which made the words seem so impersonal to Haruka.
"Of course" The blonde replied, resuming her typical nonchalant tone.
Haruka turned her form once more facing the battle, seeing Mars take her chance at destroying the plant life. Michiru saw this, observing the blonde lost in thought once more. Before she could even ask what was on the racer's mind, she spoke.
"Why does it take them so long to figure out a plant is flammable?" Haruka spoke earnestly while still evaluating the fight. This made Michiru smile, as she thought on a moment a few weeks back where the inner soldiers fought against a similar daimon, and again it took countless time for Mars to cue in and smite the plant with her element.
"Maybe we'll encourage them to pursue a course in botany?" Michiru offered while still smiling, trying to breathe life back into their partnership.
Haruka shook her head in disagreement, clearly thinking on something different. "Ami is the bookworm; she's probably read more books on Botany than Usagi has on anything in the entirety of her education. Or life." she paused, allowing the humor to relieve the tension between them. "If there's anything these girls need is a crash course on common sense."
"I'd be in that as well then, Haruka." Michiru let her smile fade, remembering again why she had wanted to see her Haruka again. This provoked a quizzical expression on Haruka's face, though she quickly attempted to hide it.
"I don't really see you ever being in any class with those girls; why do you?" Haruka gazed at Michiru, shoving both hands in the pockets of her slacks. Michiru noticed this, and moved closer to Haruka gradually.
"Because I should have known doing what I did, would yield nothing but hurt for you; for me." she spoke sincerely, her voice clearly indicative of regret. This was one of those times, as many, Michiru hoped Haruka would just take the smaller woman in her arms, enveloping her; loving her.
Haruka was hardly moved at this; the blonde did not budge. She wanted to know more, it was written all over her face.
"All I can say is, I was wrong; I couldn't possibly have been more wrong for what I did to you. I don't expect to be forgiven now, but within time..." Haruka shook her head, and interrupted the other woman's apology.
"Now is not the time for an apology; can you explain what I did?" Haruka took a few short steps towards Michiru.
Michiru was deeply troubled by this; the entire time Haruka couldn't bridge the gap for what Michiru did. She was so focused on the fact the she herself did something to cause it all.
"Haruka, do you remember the last time you dreamt of the specter?" Michiru inquired, not wanting to see the blonde's expression for this explanation.
Haruka sighed, clearly in thought once more. "That day a couple of months ago when we met for..."
A startled expression of disbelief replaced Haruka's other thoughtful pose.
As soon as the words left her mouth, Haruka came to a stunning realization. Knowing it, it replaced the hurt Haruka felt about the situation between her and her mate.
"You left me...because you thought they'd come back." Haruka spoke, resuming her emotionless tone as earlier. She took her hands out of her pockets, once more folding them across her chest, in undeniable anger.
Michiru hesitated, but knew this woman she loved deserved the truth. "...Yes." She would follow it up with nothing more; Haruka would speak when she was ready.
A thousand different emotions collided within Haruka at once; love, hurt, pain, anguish, betrayal, anger, and countless others. Without looking up, the blonde spoke coldly. "You said you loved me." her eyes affixed on the ground in front of them. This was the one thought, the words Michiru left with, that were able to assure Haruka slept. But were they spoken falsely?
Without hesitation, Michiru responded. "Yes; and I still do, immensely." She nodded to further support her words.
Haruka was clearly deeply inflicted by the turn this separation between them had taken. "How do I know that wasn't part of this experiment? The falsification of words?"
To this Michiru looked angered, which was a face she rarely presented. She stepped one foot further before rapidly firing back a retort, "Because you know me Haruka; I could never pretend to love anyone." The accusation clearly stirred Michiru, as much as the "experiment" had Haruka. "That is not within my nature."
Michiru stood straight, walking to close the gap between them, throwing her arms around the woman, burying her face in her chest.
Haruka thought on the words, on the profession of love Michiru had made; twice now. As upset and betrayed as the blonde felt as having been unknowingly involved in this plot, Michiru surely felt similar on not receiving the returned confirmation that Haruka too loved her.
She unfolded her arms which were presently crushed by Michiru's body, wrapping them around the smaller woman. Without hesitation, she knew this was right. To a degree, they had both wronged each other, placing uncertainty in each other.
"This wasn't fair to either of us." Haruka said, laying her head on Michiru's beautiful hair. She felt betrayal still, but she knew the love for this woman commanded any other desire to maintain a grudge; she was a stronger person to let go.
They stood in the light of the moon, making up the lack of contact, interaction and love they had lost out on.
"Don't tell anyone, Michiru." Haruka said, her eyes closed to everything around them.
"Tell them what?" she asked quietly, not wanting to ruin the moment.
Haruka pushed Michiru away slightly, allowing them to look at one another. "That I love you." She all but whispered; wanting to deliver the full impact of such powerful words, quietly.
Michiru smiled brightly, closing the gap again, sealing the moment with a kiss. Before they could truly enjoy the moment, however...
"Isn't that so sweet? I wish Mamoru would do that..."
"I told you they were completely in love."
"Umm...maybe we shouldn't be intruding on this..?"
"Gosh, tell them to get a room!"
Michiru laughed, turning her head in the direction of the hushed whispers. She knew Haruka wanted this opportunity, so she permitted it.
"Go ahead, Haruka." Michiru said, smiling softly. Haruka nodded, stepping away from her partner briefly before shouting...
"GO AWAY, odango and entourage!" Haruka shouted loudly to ensure Usagi and crew weren't hard of hearing. As she walked away, she turned her head over her shoulder, and just for good measure...
"Before we show you some of the adult material I've told you about." the blonde grinned, knowing as curious as Usagi's crew was they were far too embarrassed to watch any intimate interaction past Michiru and her sharing a kiss.
A quick shuffle of feet and movement could be heard, and a group of feet could be heard scurrying away in haste.
"Dammit, Usagi!" one of them shouted, more than likely Rei. "We already knew they were together!" another added in exasperation at Usagi's apparent suggestion.
Further arguing and debating could be heard for several more seconds, before they disappeared into the distance. Leaving the couple to their privacy, finally.