There Might Be a Tiny Problem...
Terri walked across the street. In her mind, she could still hear Lil's droning voice, *Like, fersure, so then I said...*. She was so preoccupied with mentally punching the other American's lights out that she didn't hear the sound of an approaching motorcycle until it was almost upon her.
She screeched and tried to dive out of the way, knowing that there was no way she could do it in time. Fortunately, the driver was talented and managed to turn his motorcycle just before hitting her. He got off quickly. "Damn it, this always happens! Sorry. You okay?" He removed his helmet.
Terri felt a thrill rush through her. *Ooh. It's not every day someone this cute runs over me.* He had white-blond hair with longish bangs that fell over his teal eyes. His tenor, velvety voice was filled with concern. "I'm feeling MUCH better..." Terri whispered.
"But you're bleeding a bit."
Terri sensed an opportunity as she looked at her bleeding hand. "Help me look after it in that cafe over there and buy me a drink, and we'll call it square.
The man didn't say anything more until they ordered their drinks. Terri smiled at him and said, "I'm Terri Hamilton, from the U.S. Dumb name, huh? People think I'm a guy."
"My name has the same problem," the man agreed.
*Like anyone could think HE's a girl!* "And what is this name?"
The man grinned and stuck out his hand. "Tenoh Haruka."
Terri and Haruka fell to talking, and Terri discovered that Haruka had an avid interest in racing, which Terri really didn't care for. *Although for him, I could get to like it.*
Finally, Terri couldn't take the suspense any more, and reached for Haruka's hand. "Haruka, you're the kind of man I've always wanted. I'd like to get to know you better."
Haruka looked surprised, then coughed into his hand. "Um, there might be a tiny problem with that statement..."
He was interrupted by the polite voice of the waiter. "Tenoh-san, where are Kaioh-san and Meioh-san?"
"I go to this cafe a lot," Haruka explained to Terri before turning back to the waiter. "Michiru has an art exhibit on today, and Setsuna is helping to set it up. She wouldn't let me go early -- said there were a few things she wanted to surprise me with. I was just on my way down there now."
"If I may give some advice...?"
"If Kaioh-san did some especially for you, she'll probably be peeved if you don't show up soon."
"Arigatoh, Yamatahi-san." Haruka began to get up.
"May I come too?" Terri purred, immediately suspicious of this Michiru person. "I'm sure I'd like to see this exhibit of your friend's."
Haruka looked as if he was going to argue, then sighed. "Sure. I have an extra helmet."
*This is interesting,* Michiru thought clinically. *Haruka seems to have arrived with another girl.*
*How DARE she go after MY girlfriend?!?*
Terri cursed mentally as the woman ran towards them. *Damn! She's Michiru? What was SHE doing playing the violin in the corner?!*
*She's beautiful, too. How am I going to compete?*
*Well, persistence has to count for something.*
The aqua-haired girl flung herself into Haruka's arms, rocking him back, and kissed him passionately. When she released him, she said, "I'm so glad you came... why don't you introduce me to your friend, Haruka?"
"Um... I ran over her... she insisted on coming..."
"That's nice, dear. May I talk to you in private for a minute?"
"Oh, don't let me stop you," Terri oozed. "I'll just go look around, shall I?"
Michiru bent to put her violin back in its case, then cleared her throat meaningfully. "I believe there are a few things you need to explain?"
"It really isn't my fault this time! Honest! I ran her over and haven't been able to shake her loose!"
"Michiru, please! Give me SOME credit! She doesn't even know the truth!"
Michiru gave in to the desperate look in Haruka's eyes and allowed herself to be pulled into her lover's arms. She sighed into Haruka's hair. "You're very bad, you know that?"
"Why don't you just tell her that you're female?"
"Well... the less people a danger to my racing the better..."
"And you're enjoying stringing her along."
Michiru sighed again, shaking her head against Haruka. "All right, love. I'll let you have your fun. But if she doesn't give up soon, I'm prepared to take steps."
"Sure, OK. So what was this thing you didn't want me to see?"
Michiru's eyes lit up. "Oh, Haruka -- come look and tell me what you think!"
Michiru took Haruka's hand, and, excited as a young schoolgirl, led her across the floor to a large picture.
She positioned Haruka in front of it. "Well?"
Haruka's jaw drppped, and she couldn't find any words. She swallowed twice, trying to remove the lump from her throat. "It's... beautiful," she said finally.
The centre of the piece was a figure with huge wings sprouting from its back. It was glowing with a white light so bright that few details could be made out, but it was obviously female, nude, although it was taller than most women, with broader shoulders and a longer waist. It held a curved sword in front of its face, a sword that gave of both light and shadow, enough shadow to show amused, green-toned eyes and the hint of a smirk.
"I..." Haruka shook her head and simply pulled Michiru to her.
*Damn!* Terri cursed mentally. *They're getting lovey again!*
Haruka had pulled Michiru to him and was kissing her gently. Terri steamed.
She had to do something.
She walked over to the couple and stood looking at the picture. The two realized she was there. Michiru opened her eyes and gave Terri and indescribable Look.
"It's interesting," Terri allowed, "but not very realistic, is it?"
Michiru smiled at her. "I only paint what I see," she said sweetly.
Terri snorted and turned to Haruka. "I don't know, but if I were you, I'd worry about what she was on when she saw THAT."
This was evidently the wrong thing to say. Haruka's face darkened like a storm. Terri hurriedly added, "it is nice. If you like that sort of thing."
"Excuse me," Haruka said stiffly, "but I'd like to spend some time with my partner, if you don't mind."
"Oh, quite all right. I hafta go anyway."
Terri stalked out of the main room. "Sir?" The guard turned. "Do the artist and that man there live together?"
"So they say. They say he's the famous F1 racecar driver, Tenoh Haruka..."
"Thank you, sir." Terri walked out of the building.
*He won't court me. So I guess... I'll have to court him.*
Terri pulled one of Michiru's cards out of her pocket. It contained their home address. For mail.
Michiru sniffed at the pancakes suspiciously. There were times she truly considered asking Mako-chan if she wanted a job as a cook. Haruka said that Michiru's cooking was better, but Haruka would.
The pancakes were fine, she decided. Not undercooked, not burned. She really had to stop deliberately criticising herself.
A messy figure came down the stairs and mumbled something.
"What?" Michiru asked.
Haruka thought about this. She worked her mouth carefully a few times, then said, "Food."
"Pancakes, or if you want cold, the very elegant, upper-class... Froot Loops."
Haruka took a few more tries at speaking, shrugged, pointed at the pancakes, and gave Michiru a hopeful grin.
Michiru laughed and served her some. Haruka struggled with the fork for a few minutes, until she managed to get it facing the right way.
"I told you this would happen."
"You didn't NEED to stay up until 2 am because your engine was making a funny noise."
"You're not regretting it?"
Haruka pointed happily at her plate. "Food," she said cheerfully.
Michiru laughed again and raked her hands through Haruka's hair. "Half of it is standing straight up," she explained.
Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Michiru went and answered it.
When she came back, her face was tight and her arms were full of roses. "These are for you."
Haruka smiled at Michiru, but it faded quickly. She pointed at the roses and then at Michiru and shook her head.
"No," Michiru enunciated carefully, "I didn't send them."
Haruka hit her head against the table a few times.
In the dark under her car, Haruka fumbled around for the wrench. Someone handed it to her.
"Thank you," she muttered.
A few seconds later, she frowned, mentally replaying the last minute. Then her eyes widened and she sat bolt upright.
A big mistake for someone lying under her car.
"Jesus H. Christ!... what the hell did I do to..."
Haruka pushed himself out from under the car. He stared at Terri. *He's stunned with my beauty,* she thought smugly, batting her eyes. "This was the only race track around. I thought I might find you here."
"Haruka... oh, am I interrupting something?"
Terri turned. "Michiru, honey," she purred. "How nice to see you again."
For a minute, the beautiful girl looked angry, but then she smiled. "Oh, poor dear. You really don't know what you're getting yourself into, do you? Haruka..." Michiru held up a hand and clenched it, revealing two slips of paper. Tickets.
Haruka's eyes widened. "You didn't."
"You angel! You knew I wanted to see that game!" Haruka flung his dirty rag over his shoulder, and ran to Michiru's side. The two walked away.
Behind them, Terri went into a series of angry twitches. She snatched the rag from off her head. *This isn't working. I'll have to be more obvious."
Michiru sighed, drifting off to sleep in a warm, comfy world that contained only her and Haruka, a world silent except for their breathing...
...a world that HAD been silent except for their breathing.
Haruka made a wordless sound of protest and her arms tightened around Michiru as the other girl began to get up. "Michi..." Haruka muttered. "What...?"
"It seems as though a certain friend of yours is singing 'Crazy for You' under our bedroom window."
Haruka cursed expressively and in several different languages.
"Don't worry, love," Michiru said maliciously. "I'll take care of this."
She got up and padded over to the dresser. She picked up the vase.
Her excuse to Haruka for keeping them was that flowers couldn't defend themselves -- she doubted Haruka believed it. The real reason she didn't want to admit even to herself; she was afraid she was getting violent -- or, at least, more violent than she would have to be to rip the hearts out of living people. She wanted to stare at the roses and stew. She wanted to mentally picture what she'd do to Terri. She wanted to plot slow and painful revenge.
Michiru walked smartly over to the window, plucked the roses from the vase, and dropped them out the open window.
There was a surprised silence, and then the music came back, double forte.
Michiru smiled and dumped the water in the vase out the window.
There was a splash and a startled squawk. The music stopped.
Michiru's smile grew somewhat eviller, and she dropped the vase out the window.
Before she even heard it hit bottom, she slammed the window shut, cutting off the summer breeze. She turned, took two steps, and stopped. "What?" she snarled.
Haruka was sitting up in bed, one eyebrow raised. A corner of her mouth twitched. "My engine was making a funny noise?"
Michiru laughed, tension still thrilling through her body. Her knees gave out and she collapsed onto the bed. "I-- Incredibly funny."
"What was so hilarious about it?"
"It... seemed very amusing at the time."
Haruka made a sound in the back of her throat much like the one they were referring to, and Michiru started to laugh again.
"Y'know, I must have been very tired not to recognise what you meant by that," Haruka shook her head.
"I--" the laughter changed to tears and suddenly Michiru was crying into Haruka's shoulder.
"Why?" she sobbed. "Why won't she leave us alone? M-- most people would give up when learning we live together... It isn't funny anymore!"
"I was already stopped from telling her once," Haruka said grimly. She gently stroked Michiru's hair. "I'll do my best to discourage her."
A few moments later, she added, "This might take a while."
Outside, Terri clutched at her head and cursed, more repetitively than Haruka had done.
*This STILL isn't working.*
She stared up at the window, eyes narrowed. *I hate Michiru. I hate her! Why should SHE have Haruka when I want him so badly?*
She realised with half her mind that getting Haruka was becoming an obsession with her, but she didn't really care anymore. She wanted Haruka. So she'd get Haruka.
*Time for plan D.*
"Are you going out to the garage today?"
"Have to, love." Haruka winked at Michiru. "Funny as it seems, there IS a funny noise in my engine... my CAR engine, that is. It shouldn't take more than an hour. And I'm planning to pick up a treat on the way home."
"A treat?" Michiru hugged the other girl, laughing. "Bribery, hmm? Ara, go to your car. But if that girl shows up..."
"Don't worry, I'll cut her down. I might even be able to do it without revealing my gender."
Haruka wiped her forehead with a dirty rag, smearing some grease on her cheek. She turned to leave, and was stopped by a figure stepping into her path.
*Here we go again.*
"Haruka!" Terri gave her a silky smile. "Just the man I was looking for..."
Terri smiled at Haruka as invitingly as possible. He brushed past her and began to put his tools away. "What do you want?"
*Besides you?* "I brought you this." She held up the chocolate bunny.
Haruka looked surprised, then alarmed. "I don't like rabbits."
"I'll melt it down for you."
"I'm lactose intolerant."
"That's okay, it's careb. I thought of that."
"I don't eat careb, it's gross."
*Oh no!* "What DO you eat?"
"Did you know that chocolate is three percent cockroach droppings? They can't clean out the vats entirely."
*Ewwwwwwwww...* Terri stared at the bunny, then dropped it as though it had burned her. *Thanks a lot. Let's see if I can even bring myself to TOUCH chocolate again.*
Haruka walked past. "It was... interesting to see you."
Haruka swung his hips as he walked away. He was whistling.
"But..." Terri trailed off. *Michiru has been telling him not to talk to me, I know she has! Oooh, even if I didn't want Haruka myself, I's try to get him just to make her cry.*
*Maybe I should just jump him.*
"... I don't think I've ever heard of anyone so floored."
Michiru laughed. "Oh, Haruka... thank you, love."
"It WAS amusing." Haruka pulled Michiru closer and nuzzled her neck. Michiru leaned into the other girl's embrace.
The doorbell rang. Haruka sighed and went to answer it.
"Da dum, da da, da, dum! I'm your singing telegram! Try a vacation in Sweden! Terri has a place, it's Eden!..."
The clock struck 2 am. Michiru unwound herself from her lover's arms and snuck downstairs.
She entered the exercise room -- they may not be protecting the world peace anymore, but that was no reason to get out of shape -- pulling on a t-shirt and shorts.
Face devoid of emotion, Michiru picked up a white, stuffed pillowcase, and strung it from a chain on the ceiling. She walked over to the sofa in the other side of the room and felt around under the cushion, pulling out a bright, red marker.
In slightly trembling script, she wrote "Terri" on the pillowcase.
*Thwack. Thwack.* Punch, punch, punch. Tears began to flow.
"Damn you," Michiru sobbed. "Damn you. Damn you. Damn you..."
Haruka opened an eye a crack as Michiru slipped back into their bedroom. Michiru stripped and dropped the sweaty clothes into the hamper. She sat on the edge of the bed lightly, checking to see if Haruka was awake -- Haruka went limp, not wanting to let Michiru know that she knew when Michiru had left. Michiru sighed and curled up. A few seconds later, she fell asleep, exhausted.
Haruka pulled her closer and stroked the sleeping girl's hair. She saw that tears had dried on Michiru's cheeks. *Oh, Michiru...*
If there was anything to do, it needed to be done now, Haruka decided. Michiru was right... Terri really wasn't funny any more.
Michiru woke slowly, rising from unconsciousness like a bubble from the depths of water.
She opened her eyes as she heard the clink of dishes and a cheerful whistle. Haruka walked into their bedroom, carrying a tray of something that smelled good.
She brushed hair out of her face as she sat up. The smell of bacon made her mouth water. She eyed the tray, and then her gaze travelled.
Haruka was wearing a brief tank top and silk panties. She hadn't bothered to brush her hair yet, and her cowlick stood at a weird, adorable angle.
She sat on the bed beside Michiru with one leg outstretched and the other tucked under her. She held out the tray, shirt dipping.
"Looks yummy," Michiru said with a smile.
"I thought you might want some bacon and French toast."
"Bacon and... oh, yes, the food looks yummy too."
Haruka laughed and slid back so Michiru could lean against her. The other girl did, one hand not-so-accidentally finding its way to the top of Haruka's thigh.
Michiru ate as much as she could manage, then put the tray to one side with a sigh. "Thank you, love." She stroked Haruka's leg with her thumb. "You're going to spoil me."
"Oh, no," Haruka breathed, lips touching Michiru's ear. "If anything, it's the other way around."
"Ara?" Michiru whispered. "How so?" She ran her fingers along Haruka's belly.
Haruka's reply was too inaudible to be made out.
A loud knocking came from downstairs. Michiru pulled away. "That could be Hotaru. She's supposed to come back from her camping trip with Chibi-Usa today, right?"
"Um," Haruka said non-commitally. She reached for Michiru again.
Michiru put a finger to Haruka's lips. "Down, girl. If it's nobody, I'll be right back. If it's Hotaru... you wouldn't want to leave her on the doorstep, would you?" Michiru slid out of bed and padded downstairs.
Haruka could hear the soft sound of her lover's feet as she stepped lightly downstairs and the creak of the front door opening and closing. There was a long silence, and then the sound of Michiru retching and running to the bathroom.
Haruka leaped to her feet and dashed to Michiru's side. The girl had finished vomiting and was shaking, white-faced. It was obvious she was in shock. Haruka pulled her into her arms and rocked the girl back and forth, stroking her hair. "What happened?" she asked quietly, when the aqua-haired girl had calmed down a little.
Michiru handed Haruka an opened letter, hatred and anger simmering in her eyes along with the shock. "This."
"Die, stupid bitch.
Don't deny me what's mine."
It wasn't signed, but it didn't need to be.
Hotaru rang the doorbell, but nobody answered. She heard a voice and looked up, to see Haruka sticking her head out a window. "Hiya, Haruka-papa!"
"Hello, Hime-chan... I'll be down to let you in in a minute!"
"What do you mean 'HARUKA-PAPA'?!?"
Hotaru jumped and spun, choking back on her urge to blast the intruder into oblivion. "Who are you?"
"Haruka-papa?! Are he and Michiru married?!" The girl demanded.
"Well, no," Hotaru said confused, "but they're still my parents, along with Setsuna-mama."
The American seemed to relax a little. "Oh, I see," she said condescendingly, "they're your *guardians."
"It's none of your business!" Hotaru shouted. Purple energy began to gather. "Who are you, anyway?!"
Just then, the sound of a lock being undone behind them caused the strange girl to sprint away. Anger forgotten, Hotaru ran into Haruka's arms. "I missed you, Haruka-papa!"
"I missed you, too."
Hotaru looked past Haruka to see Michiru coming down the stairs, still pale, but smiling to see Hotaru.
"Michiru-mama, what's wrong?" Hotaru asked, dismayed.
Michiru pulled the child into her arms. "I'm just not feeling too well. There is... someone who is bothering Haruka and me."
"Oh!" Hotaru cried. "There was a girl outside who was asking me questions."
Michiru's arms tightened around Hotaru. "W... what? She began interrogating a child? What won't she do?"
"I'll kill her," Haruka muttered.
"Michiru, are you coming or not?!"
"Just a second," Michiru called down, holding up three sticks of lipstick, "I have to decide which shade looks best with my outfit!"
"Haruka-papa," Michiru heard Hotaru say, "Is Michiru-mama doing that body-paint thing again?"
"Um," Haruka said cautiously, "I don't THINK so..."
Michiru smiled. She remembered that well. It had been for a costume party; she'd worn a tiny pair of shorts and a halter-top, and had painted the rest of her body in designs of blue and green (where she thought nobody would notice, she wrote "I love Haruka" in Kanji on the back of her neck). She'd enlisted Haruka's help in washing the paint off. That had been fun.
She saw Haruka appear in the bathroom mirror and smiled at her. Haruka smiled back, coming up behind her, wrapping her arms around Michiru and nuzzling her neck. "Baka Michiru," Haruka said fondly. "You take forever to put on various types of makeup, dresses, blouses, hair ribbons... and it all comes off so easily."
Michiru met her eyes in the bathroom mirror. "Is that a promise?" she asked coyly.
Haruka grinned. "Do you want it to be?"
"HARUKA-PAPA, MICHIRU-MAMA, HURRY UP!" Hotaru shouted.
"Just a sec!" Haruka called down. She took the three lipsticks, picked one randomly, and handed it to Michiru. "This one would look lovely."
"Are you sure?" Michiru teased.
"Michiru, you would look lovely even if you wore only a paper bag!"
"Yes, but paper tears so easily."
"Well, yes, but I..."
"Let's try it sometime."
"I wanna go!" Hotaru chanted. "I wanna go! I wanna go! I wanna go! I wanna..."
"Okay, okay!" Haruka and Michiru walked down the stairs. Just when they got outside, Michiru slapped a hand to her head. "Ara! I left the tea on! Haruka, Hotaru, you go ahead to the market. I'll meet you at the normal spot."
"Whatever your heart desires," Haruka said cheerfully.
Michiru chuckled. "I love it when you say that." She shooed them ahead.
Haruka swung Hotaru up onto her shoulders, whistling. Michiru sighed as her forced good mood fell again. "I just can't take this."
"Haruka-papa! Haruka-papa! Can I have a kaleidoscope of my very own? Huh? Can I? Please??"
Haruka laughed at her daughter's enthusiasm. "Hime-chan, there's no way I'd be able to force my way through that crowd without knocking some people out! Besides, I need to wait here for Michiru, remember?
Hotaru looked so disappointed that Haruka sighed and dug around in her pockets, pulling out some money. "However, if you can meet me back here, you can get one yourself."
"Yaaay!" Hotaru cheered.
"On one condition."
"No manipulating me for at LEAST three more hours."
Hotaru thought about this for a while. "Okay!" she agreed eventually, snatched the money out of Haruka's hands, and disappeared into the crowd.
"Hey, hot stuff..." a voice said behind Haruka.
Haruka turned, ready to tell Terri what she thought of her. "... wanna get lucky?" Terri shoved Haruka up against the wall and kissed her.
Terri could have laughed, were her mouth not already busy. She'd done it! *I'm kissing him! I'm kissing Haruka! That'll teach that rich-bitch Michiru!*
Haruka made an angry sound and tried to push her away, but Terri was latched on so he couldn't do it -- which, of course, was what she'd been counting on.
Her hands searched up Haruka's back, encountering a lump of cloth. *His shirt must be creased,* she told herself. *It couldn't be...*
To banish that dread possibility, Terri pushed herself harder against Haruka. She ran her fingers down his hard chest...
...that wasn't as hard as...
...actually, it was quite...
*Haruka's a girl.*
*I'm kissing a girl.*
Remembering Michiru: *A girl who likes other girls.*
Terri backpedalled as fast as she could, whole being filled with revulsion. *Oh, God, I can't believe I kissed a girl.*
Then she looked up and saw Haruka's face.
"Rot. In. Hell." Haruka snarled. "You've done nothing but try to wreck my life with Michiru and..."
"... and I'll take it from here," a sweet voice behind Terri said, and the American spun to see Michiru standing there, anger and hate in her eyes, tears staining her face. "Haruka, please go watch Hotaru. Perhaps buy her some pink cotton candy. I won't be too long."
"Please. I need this."
Haruka took a long look at Michiru, then nodded and walked past Terri.
Terri trembled as Michiru turned to her again but held her poise. "Yeah, whad'ya want?"
"Damn you," Michiru whispered. "Damn you. Damn you."
Terri tried to walk away. "If you don't have anything better to say, I'm leaving."
"Damn you!" Michiru screamed, grabbing her by the back of the shirt and pulling her around to face her again. "You don't even care, do you? You don't even care about the torture you've been putting us through. Night and day, not knowing what you'd do next! Sending flowers to serenading to death threats! WHY?!"
"I didn't know Ha -- she was a girl!"
"It shouldn't matter! Why should it matter if Haruka's a boy or a girl? What matters is that you knew that Haruka and I love each other, that we live together, that we raise a goddamn child together and you still didn't care! You kept on the attack anyways! Was it fun? Did you like the thought of the pain and horror you inflicted?"
"Look," Terri said, beginning to worry what this crazy girl might do next, "it's not my fault if your butch girlfriend runs around pretending to be a guy! Besides, she encouraged me!"
"You selfish little bitch! 'Encouraged you'? Don't you even recognise a brush-off when you hear one?!"
"I guess, unlike you, I don't get them often enough to tell," Terri snapped. "Lesbians are people who can't get it with a man."
Michiru froze for a long moment. "You don't know what you're like, do you?" She asked softly. "You think that you're a wonderful person and it's everyone else who's in the wrong. I want you to know the agony I went through. I want you to see yourself as you are."
Terri watched as Michiru reached into her purse and pulled out a hand-mirror. *What's that going to do?* Terri thought disdainfully.
Setsuna nodded at everyone as she entered the kitchen, where Michiru, Haruka, and Hotaru were eating dinner. "Ohayo, minna. How was your time together while I was away?"
"Well," Haruka began, but Michiru touched her hand to silence her.
Michiru had almost been surprised at Terri's response to looking in the Deep Aqua Mirror, the source of truth as it is. It had been far more than the reactions she had got with any enemies -- perhaps because Terri was human, at least genetically.
When Michiru flourished her Talisman in the other girl's face, Terri's eyes had widened, and then she had screamed harshly. Tears ran down her face as she curled into a little ball, still screaming.
Michiru had walked away, trusting Terri to recover by herself, not caring if she didn't. Hopefully, if she did, she would have learned.
"There were trials," Michiru told Setsuna. "They were hard, but I think it brought us even closer in the end." Haruka put her arm around Michiru's waist and Michiru laid her head on Haruka's shoulder.
Michiru met Setsuna's eyes, and understanding flashed between them.
Setsuna smiled. "I'm glad," she said.
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