|Sephiroth/Hotaru, Haruka: Reaching Understandings
||[Apr. 10th, 2008|03:40 pm]
Ravings of a Bunny: Usagi Vindaloo's fic/icon/art
Title: Reaching Understandings
Fandom: Sailor Moon/Final Fantasy VII
Pairing/Character: Sailor Uranus, Sephiroth/Sailor Saturn
Rating: G. *GASP* I know! No porn or anything! :O
Summary: Takes place after the bulk of Remember When It Rained but before Mutual Stupidity. In the wake of Hotaru's collapse, Haruka sees another side of Sephiroth... and begins to accept her daughter's chosen lover.
Dedication: lady_pamina, the other member of my Psychic Fangirl Link ^^
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi. Final Fantasy VII belongs to Square Enix, Nomura Tetsuya, etc.
Author's Note: No smut today! Only introspection and conversations between Haruka and Sephiroth. XD Certainly very different than usual, but I'm hoping it works!
Haruka always hated hospital waiting rooms. They always felt cold and antiseptic, even when great care had been taken to give them a homey touch. The waiting room to the Crystal Palace infirmary was lavishly appointed, with glass artwork everywhere and comfortable seats... yet Haruka still found herself squirming in place, uncomfortable and wanting to be somewhere, anywhere, other than here.
It was probably the nerves, she reflected. Understandable, considering she was a parent, and her daughter was on the other side of that door. But then again... it seemed that she was not the one suffering the most from the wait.
Surreptitiously, she glanced out of the corner of her eye to the sole other occupant of the room. Sephiroth slumped in his seat, elbows resting on his knees, looking down at the ground blankly, as if he wasn't really seeing it. He'd been frozen in that position most of the time... either that, or he had been looking up at the clock, intensely, as if the slow tick of the seconds was the only thing keeping him sane.
Haruka had not expected such a dramatic reaction from Sephiroth when Hotaru collapsed. Before that damp and overcast moment, he had always been... well, if not distant, then certainly never vulnerable. It had been one of the things Haruka had both found offputting and admirable... admirable because it echoed the front that both she and Michiru had once put up in the early days of their duty, and offputting because she didn't want that attitude inflicted on her daughter. Haruka had strongly disapproved of Hotaru and Sephiroth's relationship in the beginning, pointing out not only Sephiroth's evil and malicious past but his cold, uncaring demeanor. She was privately convinced that this man was incapable of love, unable to give Hotaru the love she deserved. She grimaced as she remembered how... openly she had expressed her reservations about the relationship, both to Hotaru and to Sephiroth himself (usually with a few threats of violence mixed in).
In time, her feelings had moderated somewhat, and she'd grudgingly acknowledged both Hotaru's happiness and Sephiroth's obvious affection. But nothing had prepared Haruka for the sheer panic and horror that had gripped Sephiroth when Hotaru fell to the ground, unconscious from using too much of her energy. He had seized her in his arms, called her name desperately, shaking her to try and wake her, his voice increasing in volume as he begged her to wake. For several moments, he had refused to relinquish her still form to Ami and the others, arms locked around his lover and holding her close as if to protect her from everything, even her friends. It wasn't clear if he'd been aware of their presence or not, but no one wanted to grab him and get rough with him to "wake him up"... as Minako had pointed out, in his current mood he was likely to fly into a berzerker rage and kill anyone who tried to physically pry him from Hotaru's side.
It was only after Ami carefully and slowly explained to Sephiroth what she needed to do - that she needed to get Hotaru back to the infirmary to run tests, that it was the best thing for Hotaru's health, that he needed to let go of her - that at last, something like his usual sanity and reserve returned. Even then, he had been reluctant to relinquish his lover's limp form, and his cool mask of competence and command had cracks in it. The Senshi had pointedly ignored those cracks... they all knew instinctively that they'd seen a side of him they weren't supposed to see, that he was ashamed of or only wanted Hotaru to see, and they respected that. Haruka could imagine how humiliating it would be to someone like Sephiroth to actually panic and show vulnerability... which, in turn, made her realize just how deep his feelings had to go to evoke that emotional response.
Since then, he'd been calm, but visibly shaken and stunned. He'd insisted on going to the infirmary, and since arriving had been silent, either totally directed inward or staring at the clock as if willing it to speed up and deliver news.
As for Haruka, she was there because, like Sephiroth, she was worried. Not quite as worried, perhaps, as she was used to the mechanics of Hotaru's healing magic and the bouts of weakness it resulted in. But then, she'd never used that much healing magic before... Haruka couldn't help but worry that the magic might have seriously weakened or even damaged her daughter, perhaps even...
She shook her head. No, no, she would not consider that possibility.
Ami was taking care of her right now. She would know what to do. She had the best technology mankind had to offer at her disposal, not to mention the most brilliant mind in Crystal Tokyo. She was used to treating Senshi, and although her speciality was in biology, she'd picked up more than enough metaphysical and magical knowledge to deal with this sort of problem. After all, she'd treated Hotaru before.
The others were still in the process of returning order to the city streets. Michiru and Setsuna had both wanted to come with her to the infirmary to wait and watch over their foster daughter, but Haruka had encouraged them to help with the patrols and let her deal with Hotaru.
Which left her alone with Sephiroth in the cold, antiseptic waiting room.
Haruka sighed, fidgeting in her seat. Despite her overriding concern for Hotaru, a part of her was calm enough to find great discomfort in her companion. She wished now she had accepted Michiru's request to wait with her... anyone would make a more pleasant companion that the sullen, silent man sitting next to her. They hadn't spoken a word to each other since they sat down. Not surprising... they'd never exactly been cordial to each other. First they'd met on the battlefield, then they'd engaged in an entirely different sort of battle, one over Hotaru herself. I suppose threatening him with bodily harm if he so much as touched my daughter was not the brightest thing I ever did, she mused, but then, accusing me of being controlling and neglectful wasn't exactly nice of him either. I'm surprised we managed to be civil after that.
But now, sitting here in the infirmary waiting room with him, both focusing all their concern and love on the woman in the other room, she felt a sudden kinship with him. Just as she was worried about Hotaru, so was he... and his love probably was as strong as her own. A part of her old pride insisted that she hate Sephiroth and blame him for Hotaru's condition - after all, she'd nearly killed herself trying to heal him - but she couldn't. Not when he had taken the youma's blow to save her and protect her.
He does love her... I was too blind to see it. It took my daughter risking her life to make me see... oh god...
Haruka swallowed harshly, pushing the sudden surge of grief back down. Hotaru would be fine. She had to be.
She glanced at Sephiroth again. He still had not moved, staring at the ground intently. The feelings of kinship were still there, outweighing any old grudges she might have had against him. Sighing, she decided to break the silence, if only to help calm and distract both of them. "Sephiroth..."
The silver-haired man looked up at her with a jerk, blinking. He'd obviously forgotten she was there.
She hesitated briefly, unsure of what to say. "She... She'll be all right," she finally said with almost gentle reassurance. "Ami is the best. Hotaru will be fine."
Behind his blank gaze, she could see him struggle to accept it. "What if she's not?" he murmured.
"... then we'll find a way to make her fine," Haruka replied quietly, meeting Sephiroth's gaze.
He fell silent again. Haruka thought the conversation had ended, when suddenly he swore. "Damn her! What the hell did she think she was doing, anyway?" He got up and paced, obviously angry over Hotaru's headstrong move.
"Saving your life, probably," Haruka said with a touch of amusement.
"I'm not worth..."
Sephiroth suddenly shut up, a stricken look passing over his face. Stiffly, he turned away from Haruka, but it was already too late... she knew what he had been about to say.
I'm not worth it.
Haruka was quiet for a moment, out of respect to that moment of vulnerability she'd glimpsed, the other side of that giant ego.... then murmured, "Well, I guess we CAN agree on some things after all."
Sephiroth's gaze snapped around on her, boring into her, but there was no malice or scorn in her tone, only quiet understanding. After a tense silence, he finally sighed. "Perhaps you are right."
Haruka shrugged. "Look, frankly, I'm with you. I think she was being stupid, she shouldn't have done it, least of all for you," she shook her head. "She... she shouldn't put herself at risk like that."
Silence. Then, "... agreed." Sephiroth sat down heavily in the chair again, running a palm over tired eyes. "Seems you're more intelligent than I gave you credit for."
"But..." Haruka added in a slightly pointed tone, "she would have been in a lot MORE risk if that youma had managed to get its claws into her."
Sephiroth did not respond.
"You saved her," Haruka pushed on, as stubborn in her praise as in her insults. "More than that, you took the blow for her so she wouldn't be hurt."
A snort. "Not that it seems to have done much good."
"Aren't you just the little ray of sunshine?" Haruka rolled her eyes. She grew serious. "I mean it, though. You did a great thing for her. It... means a lot to me." Sephiroth glanced at her, eyebrow raised. "I guess... I'm just trying to say... thank you for saving her life. For taking care of her."
Sephiroth shrugged, as if it were a foregone conclusion. "Someone needs to take care of her."
His words hit a poignant note with Haruka. Someone to take care of her... someone to protect her... and yet, Hotaru herself had always been the caregiver, the protector. That was her duty as a Senshi... the duty of all of them. Always, it was Usagi who was to be cared for, provided for, protected in her purity and shining heart... now Haruka felt a twinge of guilt that she'd never really stopped to wonder why her foster daughter didn't deserve the same treatment.
Obviously, it seemed someone else HAD wondered. The blonde senshi tilted her head as she regarded Sephiroth with a frank gaze. He wasn't like the Senshi... he'd never seemed to owe any particular loyalty to Neo-Queen Serenity. Perhaps... that meant he was less likely to suffer from blinkered vision. He wasn't interested in why Neo Queen Serenity was a special case, or why she was the center of the universe for her Senshi... as far as he was concerned, she was just another woman... and, obviously, a woman who didn't compare to Hotaru, at least in his eyes.
It occured to Haruka that she should be offended on behalf of her queen. But at the moment, sick with worry over her foster daughter, she couldn't be angry. In fact, she could understand his sentiment... and perhaps, in private, chide herself for not sharing it earlier. Perhaps, in the balance between being a parent and being a Senshi, her duty and loyalty to Usagi had been weighed more than it should.
My loyalties... my love... it's always been divided in some way. Sephiroth's isn't. Maybe that's why...
"I was wrong about you," she murmured before she could stop herself.
Sephiroth's eyes shot to her. "What's that supposed to mean?" he growled in something more like his usual anti-social manner.
Haruka didn't answer, only meeting Sephiroth's gaze frankly. After a moment's silence, she leaned forward and hissed, "Promise me you'll never stop loving her, all right?"
He blinked, taken off guard by her comment. "What?" He raised an eyebrow. "I thought you used to be of the impression that I didn't love her at all."
"Yeah, I was. Hence me saying I was wrong about you. Pay attention." She rolled her eyes. "Honestly... my daughter would have to fall for an attention deficit moron, wouldn't she?" Despite her scorn, her lips twitched slightly.
She was pleased to see an answering twitch at the corners of his mouth. Good; at least he could be somewhat distracted from his current obsessive worry. "I don't hear her complaining," he smirked. "Just because I'm not the stellar, upstanding, brilliant man you would have wanted for your daughter..."
"Ah ah ah," she cut him off. "Actually, I wanted a stellar, upstanding, brilliant WOMAN for my daughter..." she repressed a snicker as she saw the nonplussed look cross Sephiroth's face, then grew sober again. "But failing that... I guess what I'm trying to say is... if it's going to be you, then just... make her happy, please. Keep her safe."
"Of course," he murmured, and for once there was no resentment or offended pride in his voice... only firm agreement. "As long as she lives..." he trailed off, and she saw a flicker of pain in his eyes as Hotaru's current situation reintruded on his thoughts.
"She will," Haruka assured him, oddly touched by his promise. "She won't die when she's got you to come back to."
They sat in slightly awkward but friendlier silence before Sephiroth said in a low voice, "It almost sounds like you think I'm worthy of her."
Haruka thought on that for a moment. "... I don't think anyone really is. But..." she struggled with her pride, "... maybe you're close enough after all."
Sephiroth glanced at her in mild surprise. Their eyes met for an instant before the door opened and Ami came into the room.
Instantly, Haruka was on her feet, eyes on Ami, tense and nervous for a fraction of a second. That was all the time it took to see the wide smile on the ice Senshi's face. Instantly, Haruka relaxed, feeling the tension and the strain of worry flow out of her like water through a sieve. Ami would only be smiling like that if things were okay.
Sure enough, she held up a hand to reassure both of them. "Good news," she beamed, "Hotaru is going to be fine."
Beside her, Haruka could almost feel Sephiroth's agonized tension about to break. "Are... are you sure?"
"Positive," Ami nodded. "No lasting damage or weakness... just exhaustion, that's all it is. She'll probably be sleeping like a baby for the rest of the day, but nothing else to worry about." She grinned ruefully. "I'm sorry it took me so long to let you know though... I thought I'd better be absolutely certain, so I ran quite a few tests to be sure. My apologies for keeping you waiting."
Oh, no biggie, Haruka thought sarcastically. She could sense Sephiroth at last relax, almost sagging in relief; she could understand the feeling very well. "Can we see her?" she asked, voice hoarse with exhausted emotion.
"Of course," Ami nodded. "She's not conscious at the moment, of course, but you're both more than welcome to look in on her."
Sephiroth was already moving past them without a word, sweeping past Ami into the room beyond. The Senshi sighed and shared a knowing grin with Haruka, who for her part rolled her eyes and followed him in.
The lights in the infirmary were slightly dimmed, likely out of courtesy to its sole patient. Hotaru lay on the central bed, tucked in under white sheets. Her eyes were closed, but her face looked less drained and exhausted as when she first collapsed in the rain; indeed, she looked perfectly peaceful in her sleep. Sephiroth was already by her side, eyes for nothing else besides her face. It was clear he'd almost forgotten they were there... otherwise why else would he touch Hotaru's cheek so tenderly, brushing away a strand of still damp hair, as if no one could see him?
Haruka quietly "ignored" the display and instead moved to stand on Hotaru's other side. The sleeping Senshi reminded her strongly of another time, another place, when Haruka would hover over a little girl's bedside watching her sleep. The memory choked her up. "You had us all worried, little princess," she murmured, falling back on her old nickname. She grabbed Hotaru's hand and squeezed it. "Next time, let the big muscled oaf deal with it, okay?" She half expected an annoyed reaction from the muscled oaf in question, but he didn't seem to hear. Squeezing Hotaru's hand again, Haruka suddenly kissed her palm on impulse, a rare maternal gesture, before placing it carefully back on the bed. "Don't you worry me like that again, okay?" Her voice cracked slightly and she swallowed.
From behind them, Ami coughed gently. "I have Hotaru's clothes here." Haruka turned to see Ami holding up a bag full of sodden, damp clothes. "They were absolutely drenched from the rain... I thought I'd better get her out of them, otherwise she'd catch a cold for sure." Now that she mentioned it, Haruka noticed her daughter was dressed in the loose white cotton of hospital pajamas. "If you like, I can just send them to the servants to have them cleaned and dried." Haruka nodded, a weak smile of gratitude on her face.
"Can I take her home?"
Sephiroth's hoarse, soft whisper startled both women, and they turned to him in surprise. He was still gazing on the sleeping form of his lover, not looking at either of them. His expression was etched with barely-suppressed concern and longing.
Ami softened immediately. "Of course," she soothed. "In fact, it's probably the best thing for her right now... she'll sleep better back in her own bed, tucked in nice and warm. Here, I'll get you a stretcher..."
"No need," Sephiroth said. Before either of the Senshi could do anything, he was bending down and carefully slipping his arms underneath Hotaru. With infinite care and gentleness, he lifted Hotaru in his arms, cradling her like a sleeping child. The gesture was simple, but the warmth and ease of it spoke volumes, and Haruka was once more struck at the strength of the silver-haired man's feelings.
Hotaru, for her part, did not wake from being shifted... but she moved. Murmuring something in her sleep, she turned her body towards Sephiroth, unconsciously sensing the warmth of his body. Sighing happily, she curled against him like a cat, snuggling closer to the source of heat and resting her head on his chest. She murmured contentedly before dropping back into deep sleep.
The flash of emotion on Sephiroth's face was so unbearably tender, so fiercely protective, that Haruka found herself having to turn away out of respect. She noticed Ami becoming suddenly fascinated with the contents of the bag she was holding. Neither woman looked up as he composed himself, then turned to go, carrying his lover in his arms while she slumbered.
Haruka jumped in surprise when Sephiroth said her name... more surprising was the fact it was the first time he'd ever addressed her by her first name as opposed to "Tenou" or "Uranus." "Yes?" she said cautiously, turning to him.
He stood in the doorway, back turned to her, his arms still cradling Hotaru. After a moment of silence, he said, with grudging sincerity. "Thank you... for attempting to distract me."
Haruka smirked. "Bah, 'attempting'? Don't give me that... I totally managed to make you focus on other stuff for a few minutes. I had you wrapped around my little finger."
For the first time in an hour, Sephiroth snorted in amusement. "Don't flatter yourself," he mocked. "There's only one woman who can wrap me around her little finger." And with that, he stalked off, moving gracefully and smoothly so as not to jolt Hotaru too much.
Haruka shared a knowing grin with Ami. "Yeah," she said wistfully, almost to herself. "I can see that."
A/N: Not sure where the inspiration to write this came from. Perhaps it was as penance for all the internal "Haruka bashing" I used to do. I always saw Haruka as being as close to a Senshi "antagonist" towards Hotaru and Sephiroth as would be possible. Whenever a Senshi is needed to either hurt Hotaru's feelings or to basically be a stumbling block to their developing romance, I always seem to mentally pick Haruka. I think it's all holdover from Sailor Moon S, when Haruka was actually trying to kill Hotaru... all the subsequent canon, as well as most fanfic, focuses on their close family relationship afterwards, but I always thought their relationship might be strained and distant because of it, at least as Hotaru grew up. "Daddy tried to kill me," can't exactly make for healthy familial relationships. >.> Add to that the fact that, well, Haruka seems JUST the sort of person who would hate Sephiroth's guts and make no bones about it, and... well, as I said, internal Haruka bashing. DX
Having said that, I recognize that she probably doesn't deserve such treatment, so I wanted to do something a little softer and more affectionate with her... show her parental side, as well as having her warm up to Sephiroth a little. While I don't know if she'd ever exactly be "best buds" with Sephiroth, I can definitely see her appreciating how happy he makes her daughter. Seeing the Hotaru/Sephiroth pairing through Haruka's eyes was an idea I'd been toying with for a while, and thus, out popped this fic. I admit it was sort of fun to develop a sort of teasing repartee between Haruka and Sephiroth... I could see them possibly, in time, becoming friends who constantly snark at and insult each other for fun.
I know I made Sephiroth a bit more emotional than normal. That was partially deliberate. I figured that he's so desperately worried about Hotaru that he's not his usual cool self (he probably surprised even himself with the depth and violence of his feelings). Even once he knows she's all right, he's so relieved and wound up that he can't help but let his emotions take over, just a little. By the time Hotaru wakes up, he's probably calmed down a lot and mastered himself again.
Anyway, hope you like it! It's probably the last big fic I'll be able to manage before heading off to Egypt, though I suppose a short one shot bit of inspiration might hit me. XD