Story: Rapture (chapter 2)

Authors: Lowdeen

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Chapter 2

Title: Chapter Two

Chapter 2

She moved along to the music, her steps automatic, an inherent grace in every well-developed line of her body. Tonight, she was dressed in a black tuxedo to match the occasion -- a formal party thrown by one of Michiru's many patrons. This was the third night in a row she'd been dragged to one of these can't-miss-events by her partner. She glanced down at the aquamarine head resting against her shoulder and a wistful thought floated into her mind.

How much simpler would her life be if she could love the woman in her arms as she surely deserved to be loved? Instead, her heart had forged its own path, yearning for the most unobtainable person on its horizon. Her lips quirked into an involuntary grin as her thoughts turned to a certain odango-haired princess. They had made love all day that Saturday, the first day she'd touched her beloved that way. Her heart ached to take the smaller girl in her arms once again, to bury her face into that fragrant golden hair. Nearly a week had passed and she'd only been able talk to her odango atama in passing -- hurried conversations and yearning looks that only made her miss her princess all the more.

Haruka felt the whole impossible situation crash down on her again; her doubts coalescing into a boulder she had to carry across her back. Every second spent apart from the love of her life only served to deepen her despair and, as much as she wanted to proclaim her love to the world at the top of her lungs, she couldn't … not yet. Maybe not ever. Her arms wrapped tighter around the only source of comfort at close hand -- Michiru. The sea senshi seemed to always be there; her rock, her one steady influence in a world where nothing stayed permanent. Through it all, Michiru had stuck by her, her devotion as unwavering as her belief in her partner.

And therein lay the crux of the problem for the sandy haired senshi. The trust given to her so easily by this marvelous woman had been violated time and again, the precious gift turned to shit in Haruka's hands. If she were a better person, she would have already broken it off with Michiru, saving whatever friendship they might still be able to salvage. As it was, she wasn't a good person; she was a coward -- unable to completely let go because she was afraid to be alone and yet unable to be faithful because her heart demanded someone else. She didn't know how her princess could love a wretch like her but was eternally grateful that the blonde did.

The song ended and the two senshi pulled apart. The green haired woman looked up, giving her partner a brilliant smile that many men around the room no doubt secretly wished were bestowed on them. Many in the room also viewed them as the perfect couple -- young, attractive, successful, and of course heterosexual. No one would suspect the normally masculine attire hid a distinctly female body. No one would question her relationship with the star musician because, to the world, she was a man, the world class race car driver, Haruka Tenoh.

It was ironic that without consciously trying, she could act a better man than most of the 'real' men around her. She chose to wear the clothes that she felt comfortable in. She chose to cut her hair in a style that was practical to her. She chose a profession that she was passionate about. The image she projected was in no way orchestrated; it was just who she was and if people thought she was a man, than so be it. The senshi of the wind didn't care one way or the other. She neither needed nor desired her life to be dictated on other people's terms, explaining, at least partially, her willingness to take on a force as indomitable as fate.

Fate was her shackle, chaining her to the ground when she longed to fly in the sky. But on the flip side of the coin, it had also brought the gentlest soul she'd ever met into her life and for that fact alone, she would not change a thing leading her to this point in her life even if, by some miracle, she had a chance. In the relatively short time they'd known each other, Usagi had become her entire world. She lived for the younger girl, would unconditionally die for her, and would willingly keep secret their affair as long as her love deemed necessary.

She felt a tug on her arm and absently followed her partner off the dance floor towards a group of the green haired senshi's friends. She gave a token effort to follow the conversations around her but quickly lost interest and instead, spent the time staring off into space. She was surrounded by rich people and their rich diversions and she felt nothing for any of it. Given a chance, she would trade it all in right now to spend the night in the garage with her friend Shinji, fixing up her car. For that matter, she would trade a thousand such nights in a heartbeat for one solitary moment in the company of her princess. But instead, she was stuck here with these people she didn't care for with the beginnings of a headache rubbing her last nerve raw.

On impulse, she grabbed a flute of champagne from a passing tray and gulped down the contents in two large mouthfuls, hoping it would dull the pain, if only for a while. An aura of detachment surrounded her lanky figure, its presence as palpable as a stiff wind, warning off several people who thought briefly of speaking with her. Thirty minutes hadn't even elapsed and she already felt like an oft-paraded monkey in a suit. She wanted to leave, to go home but she knew that wouldn't happen for at least a couple of hours.

Suddenly, her field of vision was completely filled by a mass of red-gold curls that seemed to be talking to her. Haruka gave a start, taking a nervous step back before she realized it wasn't the hair talking to her but the woman said hair was attached to. She winced, taking her first good look at the much too colorful woman standing in front of her. From crown to toe, the woman was a riot of color, nearly blinding every eye unfortunate enough to look directly upon her. Dressed in a sequined blue gown that sparkled and refracted light like a cheap cubic zirconia with unruly hair the color of which was not found in nature, the stranger certainly stood out from the crowd.

Haruka brought her hand up to rub her abused eyes but found it quickly snatched in a slightly sweaty grip.

"I've always wanted to meet you Mr. Tenoh," the woman gushed, enthusiastically pumping her hand up and down. Her eyes, Haruka noticed when she finally dared another look, were the only thing without color on her entire body, shining an opaque silver.

"I've admired you for so long," the stranger continued, her grip still firm around the senshi's hand. "I have large posters of you everywhere in my house. That race you won in Osaka, I was in the stands cheering you on the entire way. It was all so exciting; I almost passed out when you crossed the finished line. And let me tell you, my voice was still hoarse two days later from screaming so loud. I've never in my life seen anyone with your skill … why, it's almost supernatural how good you are. My friend says you're lucky but the old fool couldn't find his own behind in the dark. Why, I remember this one time--"

"I'm sorry," the sandy haired tomboy interrupted, retrieving her hand with one strong pull, almost causing the other woman to lose her balance in the process. "I don't believe I know who you are."

The multi-colored woman flushed, her cheeks turning brick red. "Oh, will you look at me," she loudly exclaimed. "So excited to meet you, I even forgot to introduce myself. You must think I'm a total dunce." Haruka started to shake her head in the negative just to be polite but the woman continued on heedless. "My name is Chisuko Yamamoto and like I've said, it is a pleasure to meet one as illustrious as yourself."

Before the gaudy woman could continue to yammer on as she looked bound and determined to do, Michiru walked up to stand next to her partner, letting one elegant hand rest the wind senshi's arm. As polite as ever, she greeted the newcomer before turning to address the taller woman next to her.

"Haruka, I love this song," she said, her expression somewhat strained as an amused grin threatened to pop up on her face. "Can we dance?"

"Absolutely." Haruka barely spared a backwards glance at the long-winded woman, Chisuko as she quickly led her graceful dance partner back onto the dance floor.

"Looks like you have a fan," the green haired woman teased as she placed her head on a strong shoulder.

Haruka scowled. As if having to be at this party wasn't enough, now it seemed she had some fanatic trailing after her.

After a quiet moment between the pair in which only the sound of the band was heard mingling not unpleasantly with the murmur of a hundred different conversations humming through the air, Michiru spoke once again in a voice devoid of her earlier humor.

"Haruka," the senshi of the sea began. "Is something wrong? You seem agitated."

The shorthaired woman answered immediately, her mind still on the annoying fan she'd just met. "Of course I'm agitated, Michi," she exclaimed, using a diminutive name for her elegant partner. "If you hadn't rescued me when you did, that woman would still be talking my ear off … and I don't think my eyes will ever recover." She shuddered, trying valiantly to scour the dreadful image that seemed seared into her brain.

Michiru shook her head, her hand behind Haruka's neck tightening slightly. "No, I don't mean about that woman. You've been agitated all night. I can see it in your eyes as clearly as I can see the moon outside. Your body might be here but your mind isn't." She sighed, pressing herself closer to the taller body. "And it's not just tonight, Haruka. I've noticed it for weeks now, this restlessness in you. I haven't said anything until now. Maybe I should have paid more attention sooner but it's just been so hectic with the performances and the rehearsals--"

"No!" Haruka interrupted vehemently. "This isn't your fault. Don't ever think you're responsible for my problems, Michi."

The wind senshi ground her teeth, unable to explain any further without revealing too much. She hated keeping secrets from her best friend because, despite everything, Michiru was still her confidante -- the woman knew more about her than even Usagi. But to reveal everything now would be betraying her princess' trust -- something she found bitterly ironic since she was already betraying Michiru's trust by not saying anything in the first place. And she had no one to blame but herself because the whole situation was her fault.

She was the one who first initiated the flirting with the moon princess because she loved to see the color rise in her odango atama's cheeks. She initiated the playful touches because she couldn't keep her hands off that silky soft skin. She initiated that first kiss because she wanted the princess' hot breath in her mouth. She had initiated everything … even last Saturday. She was the one who initiated that too. She had wanted to possess the blue-eyed beauty completely.

An awful thought suddenly entered her mind then. What if she'd pushed her beloved into doing something before she was ready? Usagi had been so nervous in the beginning; she'd been trembling. And yet, Haruka hadn't stopped, chalking the trembling up to anticipation. She'd let her libido dictate her actions like some horny man. The tomboy felt a sick nausea grip her gut at even the suggestion that she had hurt the petite blonde in any way. She vowed to speak with her princess the first chance she got and, if it turned out she had any hand in hurting the gentle girl, Haruka would cut her own hands off before she would ever touch her love again.

"Haruka?" Michiru called, snapping the sandy haired woman from her morbid thoughts.

The taller woman looked down into the concerned blue eyes of her best friend, so like the fathomless depths of the sea the graceful senshi controlled, and felt herself mentally recoil. She felt dirty; her very soul unclean. But that wasn't what bothered her. No, it was the fear that she would somehow taint her partner through her very touch. Slipping from the other woman's grasp, her eyes refocused on the floor as she mumbled an excuse about being sick. Fortunately, Michiru didn't try to touch her again, instead suggesting that they should leave early in sedate tone. Even though she knew tonight's gala was important for the violinist's image, she was glad she could finally get out of there.

Mutely, she followed Michiru and stood beside the other woman as she made her good-byes to her friends, feeling some of the existing tension finally beginning to unwind from her muscles. As the couple made their way out, neither noticed the pair of colorless eyes that tracked their progress from the corner of the room nor the garishly red lips that curled into a disturbing smile.

On the drive home, Haruka pushed her car, making the silver convertible fly along the roads, adeptly maneuvering around other slower moving vehicles. Nothing disturbed the strained silence between the two senshi aside from the howling of the wind that blew around them. In no time at all, Haruka was guiding her car into the underground garage of their apartment complex. With Michiru's performance money and her own winnings from the racetrack, they could afford to live very comfortably, considering they were still high school students.

They lived on the eleventh floor of the twelve-floor luxury complex. Not a word was exchanged as they rode up the elevator or when they entered their apartment. Michiru immediately went into the bathroom and a few minutes later, when the sound of the shower sounded from behind the closed door, Haruka picked up the phone, dialing a number she knew by heart.

One ring. Two. And then the voice of her angel came on the line.

"Odango," she said, her voice noticeably more cheerful than it had been the entire night.

She heard a squeal of delight through the receiver followed by her name, "Ruka-chan! It's only … 8:30. Are you still at the party? It must be great, getting dressed up and everything. I bet you look really handsome. Are you wearing your tux? I wish I were there with you; then we could dance. I've been getting better -- remember the last time we danced? I kept stepping on your toes. Did you have dinner yet? Mom made salmon today. It was delicious but the vegetables weren't so good. I had to eat spinach. Yech!"

Haruka would have gladly listened to her love's voice for the rest of the night even if she caught only the occasional word when Usagi launched into one of her monologues. Tonight, however, she was running short of time; Michiru could step out of the shower at any minute.

"Koneko-chan," she cut in, interrupting her love in mid-sentence. "I need to see you tomorrow … can I pick you up after school?"

She could hear the slightest bit of hesitation in her princess' voice but before she could dwell on it, Usagi answered. "Of course, Ruka-chan. We haven't spent any time together since … " Haruka grinned, picturing the adorable blush that was no doubt creeping across her beloved's face. "… since Saturday. I've been thinking about you every second."

"Me too, odango. I wish I could be with you right now. I'd love to give you a good night kiss." A giggle erupted from the phone lines, warming Haruka's heart. "But it'll have to wait until tomorrow. I'll meet you outside your school, all right?"

"I'll be there … I love you Ruka-chan."

"I love you too, my princess. Sweet dreams."

Haruka reluctantly clicked the off button on the phone as she walked to the large picture window and stared out into the dark night with unseeing eyes. She was unaware when the shower finally shut off or when the door to the bathroom opened. Melancholic blue eyes took in her oblivious figure for long seconds before retreating quietly into the bedroom.

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