Author’s Notes: The characters in these stories are not mine, I have borrowed them, entirely without knowledge or consent from Takeuchi Naoko, Kodansha, and Toei. May they forgive me, or at least never notice.
This is a short three-part series that explores what the mornings after various major crises might have been like for the Outer Senshi.
I would like to dedicate this series to Adam, who kept reminding me I said I’d write these stories, until I actually did, and to Janice, whose Haruka and Michiru stories make me terribly jealous. :-)
If you enjoy these, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org – I really enjoy positive feedback.
Haruka let her fingers play across the keyboard, not striking the keys, simply acknowledging them. The music flowed through her head, a tangible thing in the nearly empty room. Empty, that is, but for the piano, her futon, and the figure that lay upon it – the figure she now ignored.
Haruka let the music drive the memory of the last 18 hours out of her mind. She did not glance over to where the sleeping figure lay, or think about the unconscious body she had carried home last night, bloody and bruised. She did not think of the rapidly healing wounds, the fever, the night sweats and dementia, the moment of exquisite tenderness as this strange girl, her eyes fevered, had reached out for her, begging her not to leave. Haruka had held her then, wondering whom it was this slight girl could love with so great a passion that she would cry out, even in her dreams.
Now Haruka refused to remember that moment during the depths of the night when the girl’s fever peaked. Looking down, she had seen the girl’s brow drenched in sweat, eyes burning with confusion and pain. A slender, graceful hand had reached out of this special madness. The hand had brushed her lips, her face, pushing hair out of her eyes, and the voice, so soft, so kind it hurt to hear, had said, “I love you…” Haruka hadn’t been able to breathe, had felt the most amazing envy for the true recipient of this emotion. The girl’s blue eyes had relaxed and closed then, as the fever broke, and as she fell into peaceful sleep, the word had come, almost inaudible. “Haruka.”
But Haruka would not think of that. Nor would she remember the boy who became a monster, the overwhelming need to fight it, the sense of outrage that something so unnatural would invade her city, her planet. She would not wonder at the wand that appeared magically before her, nor at the appearance of this girl, and her miraculous transformation into a sailor-suited superheroine. She refused to even think of her own pain, her own flight from her destiny. No, all that she would think of, all that she would allow herself right now, was the music.
“Do you have it?” The voice was sharp, firm. Haruka’s hands slipped, slamming into the piano keys discordantly. She turned to see the girl sitting up, returning her gaze coolly.
Haruka did not answer, amazed that this girl, still in a blood-stained school uniform, could be so in control, so commanding.
“Do you have it?’ she demanded, her eyes blazing.
“What?” Haruka had not imagined their next conversation would be so disconcerting.
“The wand! The wand – where is it?” The girl’s voice was not emotional, but insistent.
“I…I don’t know where it is.” Haruka attempted to explain, but it was hard to remember just what had happened. Everything had moved so quickly…”I looked for it, but it was gone.”
“Gone.” The word was not a question. The girl’s eyes closed. Her face became calmer and when she again looked at Haruka, she smiled a cold, distant smile. “Call it.”
“Wait a second!” Haruka had had about enough. “Who are you? What is going on here? And by the way, ‘Thank you very much for taking care of me while I was ill, Tenoh Haruka-san.'”
The girl smiled at Haruka’s outrage, but she bowed. “Thank you very much.” Her face became serious. “But we don’t have time for this…” pushing aside the bedclothes, the girl – Kaioh Michiru, Haruka grudgingly acknowledged the girl’s name – stood up with alacrity. She moved fast enough to make Haruka dizzy, and before she could stop herself, Haruka found herself halfway to the door. She opened her mouth, but Michiru’s voice stopped her.
“We *don’t* have time for this, Haruka-san.” And they were out into the hall, down the elevator and on the street.
Before Haruka had time to get her bearings, Michiru had pulled her into an empty lot. From the looks of things construction had begun there, but never been finished. The rotten metal carcass of an abandoned building shielded them from prying eyes.
Michiru rounded on Haruka, her eyes shining. Haruka wondered if the fever had left the gir.., Michiru, damaged in some way. Haruka affected a cool demeanor, crossing her arms and waiting for Michiru to speak.
Haruka stared down at Michiru, acting with a nonchalance she did not feel at all. Her heart beat so loudly, it was a wonder Michiru did not comment on it. Haruka felt dizzy, as if she was carrying too heavy a load for too long, but she ground out the words, “Not until you tell me what this is about.”
Michiru began to open her mouth, but stopped, pressed her lips together tightly and turned away. It was a moment before she spoke.
“I won’t. You already know what this is about.”
“But yesterday,” Haruka found herself sweating with the effort to remain calm, Something inside her head pounded against her skull, clamoring to be born. She was deathly afraid that once she gave in, she would never be in control of herself again. “Yesterday you told me not to touch it…”
“I know.” Michiru’s voice was impossibly sad. “I know what I said. I was being selfish. I didn’t want you to have to share this burden. But today…” she spun around and Haruka was shocked to see tears on her face, “today I’m even more selfish. I want, I need your help, Tenoh Haruka… please, call it.” She lowered her eyes to the pavement, refusing to meet Haruka’s gaze.
Without conscious thought, with hardly a movement at all, Haruka found herself holding the wand in her hand. She glanced at its blue and gold exterior, she felt its weight, its solidity. Looking at the girl in front of her Haruka knew suddenly, exactly what she had to do. As she lifted the pen over her head, she could feel the tension, the fear wash away in her new understanding. And she could see the relief that washed Michiru’s face clean of years of care and worry.
“Uranus Planet Power, Make-up!” The words came to her lips as if she had said them a thousand times. Maybe she had. The rush, the whirlwind of transformation, left her breathless, yet energized, as if the world itself was no obstacle at all.
“That…was…in..credible!” Haruka gasped, as she stood, dazed, in the middle of an abandoned lot. Her previous understanding of metal, of the air, of sound had changed as well. She could hear the various vehicles outside, she could sense the presence of the people that walked down the street past the lot, unaware of the miracle within. She looked at her hands, the sailor suit that she wore, and the boots on her feet. When she looked at Michiru once more, she could see the color in her cheeks, the excitement…and pleasure, in her eyes.
“Incredible!” Haruka repeated. “Is it always like that? That was unbelievable!” She moved her arms and legs, wanting to run, to jump, to land, just to feel the power her body now had.
For the first time since they had met, Haruka heard Michiru laugh. The sound was enough to bring her up short. She glanced at sparkling blue eyes and found herself, unaccountably, blushing.
“So, does everything feel this, this amazing?” Haruka asked, trying to draw attention away from her warmed cheeks.
The smaller girl nodded. “Everything.” she said, then smirked. Haruka looked at her, puzzled, then she realized what Michiru had meant. Haruka spun away, as her face flamed with an amazing variety of emotions.
A surge of power brought her back, as if a giant had laid its hand upon her and spun her around. Haruka gazed at Michiru, as she lifted her own henshin wand, and this time, Haruka was able to see her transform, naked in silhouette, the great rush of water that left her, not Kaioh Michiru, but Sailor Neptune.
Haruka, no, Sailor Uranus, stepped back, then stood, firm. She knew what her past had been, and now, finally, she accepted her destiny.
Smiling, she took a step forward. “What’s next, sempai?”
Sailor Neptune laughed. “Your attack.”
“Attack?” Haruka had never considered this. She had pretty fair hand-to-hand fighting skills. But that wouldn’t do against a supernatural monster. “What do I…” Her hand lifted in defiance, and as she slammed it into the ground, she heard herself screaming, with a controlled anger that seemed to echo out of the past, “World Shaking!” Her hand hit the ground and a golden sphere of light ground its way through the rubble of the lot, bursting into a million glowing shards that completely destroyed a tumulus of rusty I-beams.
“Oh my God.” Haruka whispered, one hand covering her mouth, one still clenched. “Oh my God…Michiru, Michiru, did you see that?” She turned, caught the look the other girl gave her and found herself rushing to embrace the smaller girl. “Michiru? Did you see that?”
Laughing, crying, relief flooding her limbs and making them weak, Michiru embraced Haruka and shouted that she had, she had seen it.
Haruka’s joy was quickly muted, as she realized the desctructive power she now commanded. Was this why she was born? To destroy things, people, with the power of the quaking earth? Was this what she really wanted?
Michiru watched her solemnly, not willing to shepherd her through this crisis. Haruka was aware, suddenly, that Michiru had also gone through this – the comprehension of exactly what it meant to be a soldier. And she had faced it alone. Haruka’s respect for her grew. A thought came to her, an understanding that in the past they had been partners, and that their fates were now intertwined.
Haruka looked at her hands, wondering how much blood she might get on them, then looked up at Michiru. Despite the burden she had just accepted, when she saw Michiru smile, Haruka knew that her decision had been made.
It was several hours later, after the they had utterly exhausted themselves delving into Haruka’s powers, that two girls could be seen leaving the abandoned lot. They walked down the street in perfect understanding. Whatever was to happen, even if they faced death itself, they knew that they would find the Talismans, find the Messiah and save the world from the Silence that threatened.
And for the first time in her life, Tenoh Haruka knew exactly what she had to do.