Story: Rapture (chapter 9)

Authors: Lowdeen

Back to chapter list

Chapter 9

Title: Chapter Nine

Chapter 9


Haruka could see the start of surprise on her princess' face as the golden-haired girl turned towards her shout. She walked as fast as she could towards her love, unmindful of the pain shaking her legs and turning them the consistency of rubber. The first glimpse she'd gotten of the younger girl had done wonders to bolster a failing confidence, nearly leveled from her earlier conversation with Shinji. She now had faith everything would work out -- faith borne from watching Sailor Moon face down impossible odds again and again in the past. It followed that if her leader could do it, so could she.

She saw rather than heard her name fall from corral colored lips. Coming to an abrupt stop before the startled girl, she suddenly lost the ability to do anything but stare at the lovely visage in front of her eyes. She could remember with exacting detail the last time they'd been together but memory, as nice as it was, couldn't hold a candle to the real thing.

Usagi, seeming to have gathered her scattered wits and smiled up happily at the senshi, unwittingly making the sandy-haired woman's insides melt into a warm puddle.

"Haruka," she greeted. "What are you doing here? I thought you would still be in Europe."

The senshi's spirits lowered just a little at the question. Her last remaining hopes that Shinji had gotten his facts wrong had just been bluntly dashed. Usagi must have noticed her expression darkening because the girl's own expectant smile began to waver. Mustering a weak grin for her princess' benefit, Haruka placed a hand on the smaller girl's arm, right above the elbow. She could feel the familiar warmth under her touch and longed to pull her beloved into an embrace. Preoccupied with fighting off the surprisingly strong impulse, she missed the nervous glance directed her way.

"I need to speak with you in private."

She began directing Usagi towards Shinji's waiting car without waiting for a reply, assuming the girl wouldn't put up an argument. Seemingly too astonished to react, much less argue, Usagi allowed herself to be guided, but halfway to the car, she suddenly jerked to a stop. Haruka arched an eyebrow in puzzlement as she stopped beside her princess.

"I have to go to Hikawa Shrine," Usagi explained, turning to face the taller woman. "If I'm late for another study session, Rei will never let me hear the end of it."

Haruka smiled reassuringly, hoping to alleviate her lover's distress.

"I'll have my friend drive you there as soon as we're done -- trust me, you shouldn't be late."

At Usagi's continued hesitance, Haruka pulled lightly on the arm she still grasped, watching intently as the smaller girl finally relented, giving in. They walked the rest of the way without incident and when they reached the car, the sandy-haired racer unceremoniously yanked open the driver's side door and 'advised' Shinji to take a walk around the neighborhood for awhile.

"But I thought … " The bewildered mechanic looked back and forth between Haruka and Usagi. He had been so sure that his friend had been talking of the beautiful aqua-haired violinist when she said she needed to see someone. "I mean I thought you were waiting for Michiru."

"I wasn't," Haruka said simply, ushering her golden-haired companion into the car before turning back to face her friend. "Give me a few minutes?"

Shinji hesitated but nodded slow assent and walked away. Haruka knew he would no doubt badger her ceaselessly with questions at the next opportunity but her attention had already moved onto more pressing concerns, namely to the blue-eyed girl waiting so patiently in the car. Walking briskly towards the other side of the car, she climbed into the passenger side door but not without a grunt of pain as she tried to fold her long frame back into the cramped quarters. Her discomfort didn't go unnoticed by her companion.

"Are you all right, Haruka?" Usagi asked, her concern inadvertently warming the other woman.

When she failed to respond, too caught up in the cocoon of tenderness overflowing from the slim figure, her princess reached out, touching her on the arm with a delicate hand. Haruka suppressed a shudder at the firestorm of desire the innocent touch stirred up, taken aback at her body's strong response. She had always desired the blonde beauty, even recognizing the instant lust that had sparked through her system during their first encounter but this was like nothing she had ever felt before -- this felt like a bright blue flame consuming her from the inside, leaving her mouth parched. However, aside from an increased intake in breathing, there was no outward indication of her inner turmoil.

She realized with a start that Usagi was still waiting for a response. Wetting her dry lips, she cleared her throat, trying to remember what the question was.

Finally giving up after futilely racking her memory, she asked, embarrassed, "I'm sorry, what were you asking?"

Usagi only looked more concerned at the usually imperturbable senshi's dazed look.

"You look pale, Haruka. Are you sick?'

"No," the racer answered almost immediately. But at the continued scrutiny under those guileless blue eyes, she reluctantly amended her brusque statement. "Not sick but … it's just a couple of bruises. Nothing that won't heal with time."

She tried downplaying her injuries; they were unimportant. This wasn't what she wanted to talk about with her princess. But Usagi wouldn't be sidetracked, placing a hand over the senshi's forehead, running a light finger across the cut above her eyebrow, and checking for anything else amiss.

"You're not hot," the petite figure mumbled before boldly running a hand along Haruka's body, inspecting for injuries. The older woman allowed the familiar touch unable to squelch the moan that bubbled from her throat as she watched slim hands run across her torso.

Usagi pulled back abruptly at the sound as if burned. She stammered out an apology, an apology that hurt Haruka more deeply than any of the superficial bruises marring her skin. Whether her princess realized it or not, the panicked reaction smacked of rejection to the racer. Her heart felt as if it were being squeezed in an iron fist and it was all she could do to stop the flow of words from pretty pink lips without showing the level of her own distress.

This Usagi didn't know her at all -- the blue-eyed girl might sound like her princess and look like her princess but Haruka realized with growing dismay, there was no love shining from this girl's eyes when they turned her way, only friendly concern.

"It's all right, my princess."

The blonde racer used the personal endearment without thinking as weariness settled over her like a shroud. She could've dealt with anything the gods felt fit to fling at her -- anything but this. Just when she had won Usagi's heart, just when she had everything within her grasp, she was torn from all she knew, from the person she had fallen desperately in love with and flung into this strange new world where nothing was the same. Her dreams had seemingly turned to bitter ash overnight and she couldn't help but wish she were alone right now so she could shout and scream and rail against the injustice of it all without the person at the center of her own personal maelstrom bearing witness.

A light touch on her cheek forced her however reluctantly to lift her face and, once again, she was confronted with the face of an angel -- an angel she had held so gently against herself mere days before. Unable to hold back the biting pain any longer, Haruka let the sob rip straight from her heart, the keening sounding more animal than human in its raw need. Almost immediately, she found herself enfolded by a pair of arms, pulled into a soft chest. The heady scent that surrounded her as she buried her face without hesitation in the warm crook of a neck was a drug to her system and she wished never to leave from this safe haven again. Her arms came up, wrapping around the smaller body and pulling the slight frame against her own.

She willingly lost herself in the sensation of being enveloped even though she knew in the back of her mind this wasn't her beloved. At the moment, she couldn't care less. All she needed, all she wanted was already in her arms. Unaware she was even doing so, she began nuzzling the soft fragrant skin so appealingly close to her face, skimming her lips softly across the expanse of exposed neck. Faintly, she heard the sharp intake of breath. Faintly, she was aware of the tension rippling through the body she held so tenderly.

But it was so faintly … and she was so preoccupied.

Her lips depositing feather light kisses up to the incredible velvet skin to the delicate lobe of an ear, she murmured a sigh of contentment. Not until the tremors running through the small body she held so tightly in her arms finally registered in her unfocused mind that she ceased her actions, frozen in confusion.

What was she doing? What was she *about* to do? Sick to her stomach, Haruka withdrew, her eyes unable to meet the accusing blue she knew would be focused on her. Backing as far away as possible before the painful digging of the door at her back prevented further retreat, she sat very still as if that would make her somehow invisible. Again, she mentally berated herself for her lack of control when it came to this girl, which allowed that moment of weakness. She had to remember this wasn't her princess -- not really.

Yet the more she tried grasping onto that fact, the more it slipped through her fingers, evading her understanding. Because if this wasn't her princess than who was she? Had Haruka somehow been transported to an alternate reality? If so, how did she get back? Most importantly, where was *her* Usagi?

The racer certainly had the questions -- it was the answers that were proving elusive.

And again, when she thought she would surely fall into the dark depths of her own fear and doubt, a hand on her cheek stopped her descent in its tracks, leaving her grateful and frustrated all at once. Grateful that she wasn't alone in her pain, that someone cared enough to reach out to her but frustrated as well that this girl, even for all her compassion, wasn't the one she longed for.


Her name came out as a question on timid lips, tremulous in its pronunciation but like an immutable force, her eyes were drawn upwards to confront a field of confused blue. Forgiveness. Absolution. Empathy. In one look, she received them all. She had always wondered at the unfailing compassion her princess freely bestowed on enemies and friends alike. At first, she'd been appalled at these characteristics in her leader, dismissing it as a weakness suited more for idealists sitting in their ivory towers than as a practical tactic for dealing with forces who would as soon as kill you as look at you. But she was wrong -- so wrong. It took an inner strength she could hardly comprehend to keep those ideals in the face of real evil.

And Usagi was lending her that strength now after Haruka had nearly attacked her. If it was possible, the sandy-haired woman felt worse for the kind gesture and she would have retreated if it weren't for the determined sapphire orbs that refused to release her from their gaze.

"Tell me what's wrong," Usagi implored, taking a larger hand in both of hers.

Like all the other times she'd been confronted with that pleading tone, any resolve she'd built up, crumbled like a shaky deck of cards and she found herself spilling the whole story or as much as she was able, considering she wasn't so clear on some of the details herself. Her younger self would have found the display pathetic, to show any vulnerability in front of another person but she'd learned that knowing when to ask for help was anything but weak. The words tripped over themselves in her sudden fervor to explain and, judging from the perplexed face looking back at her, she doubted she was making much sense. However, once started, she couldn't stop -- didn't want to stop. She felt as if she were finally unburdening herself to the only person she could trust and, in the process, felt her load lighten immeasurably.

When her convoluted explanation finally petered out, she carefully watched Usagi's face, waiting expectantly for the other girl to say something. When after a full minute when nothing was forthcoming, she risked squeezing the hands that held her own.

"Say something," she begged. She just needed to hear that voice, to leech some reassurance from that familiar well of strength.

A fine brow crinkled. A hand released hers and reached out to brush lightly through tendrils of her short sandy hair.

"You're not the Haruka I know," the younger girl muttered as if only now accepting the realization. "Are you?" She asked as an afterthought.

Haruka shook her head, mesmerized by the play of nimble fingers through her hair. She was letting herself get distracted too easily but she couldn't find the willpower to fight against the pleasurable reaction. Her mind might know the difference between this Usagi and her princess but her body apparently couldn't care less.

The fingers stilled but didn't withdraw and she opened her eyes, unaware of having closed them. She wasn't expecting to see the look of utter indulgence on Usagi's face. As if caught with her hand in the cookie jar, the expression dropped from the odango atama's face only to be replaced with guilt. Not able to bear discomfort on this Usagi or on any Usagi for that matter, Haruka attempted a cheerful smile, hoping to alleviate the younger girl's distress. Her attempt was met with a tentative smile that lit up the drearily cramped compartment of the car.

"I think," the blue-eyed girl started to say after a few quiet seconds, "That we should go to the shrine. Everybody will be there and they'll know more about what to do … more than me anyway."

The self-denigrating air with which that statement was delivered didn't sit well with Haruka. She debated with herself whether to say something or not -- it was a very short debate.

"Don't talk about yourself like that, Koneko-chan. You don't know how much you've helped me already -- how much just being here with you is keeping me sane. Nobody else has that effect on me because I lo … "

Haruka trailed off, barely stopping before she said too much. Usagi's blue eyes were wider than ever and no wonder, she'd almost heard a confession of love from one of her senshi. With a thud, the racer banged her head back against the side window, hoping doing so would also bang some sense into there as well.

This. Wasn't. Her. Usagi. This. Wasn't. Her. Usagi. This. Wasn't. Her. Usagi.

How many more times would she have to repeat the mantra to herself before it finally sunk in and she didn't keep saying things that were wholly improper? She didn't think the younger girl could take any more inappropriate remarks, considering the blush that was rapidly spreading across fair skin, making her look like a red tomato. First order of business was definitely to apologize. Haruka opened her mouth to do just that when a loud knocking behind her caused her to jump and once again bang her head, this time on the roof.

She whirled around and stared straight into the face of her friend.

"Shinji!" She yelled, none too pleased at being caught off guard. She opened the door, almost pushing it into the unsuspecting man. "What do you want?"

The mechanic easily shrugged off her anger. "I'm bored," he complained. "I've been walking around for thirty minutes. People are starting to give me some suspicious looks."

"And this is new, how?" Before he could reply, she interrupted. "All right, it's about time we got out of here anyway. Come on, get in."

Shinji looked back and forth between the two girls. "Exactly where am I supposed to sit?"

A look of consternation crossed Haruka's face. She'd forgotten the car only had two seats. Wincing as she looked towards Usagi, she asked in an unexpectedly flustered voice, "Would you … I mean, that is to say … there's only two seats and … would you mind … sitting in my lap?"

If possible, Usagi blushed an even deeper shade of red. Haruka felt like smacking Shinji although she knew the awkward situation wasn't really his fault but what she wouldn't give for a mini-van right now. Just when she was about to rescind the offer and save them both the embarrassment, she watched speechless as the younger girl clumsily climbed over from the driver's seat to settle uneasily in her lap. The pain from the numerous bruises that were getting poked by her unexpected passenger didn't register, nor did the shifting of the car as Shinji sat his bulk into the abandoned seat. She was only aware of the wonderfully pleasant sensations running across the parts of her body in contact with the smaller frame.

"So where am I driving you to now, playboy?" Shinji asked his two oblivious passengers.

Back to chapter list