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'This winter was colder than the last.' Usagi thought as she shivered deep into her heavy coat. It had snowed the night before, shown by the piles of shoveled snow that took up the sides of the sidewalk. There was a light, crunchy layer underneath Usagi's pastel blue snow boots as she walked through the shopping district.

Her final year of University was dreadful. She felt the pressure of her major in Early Childhood Development. The irony wasn't lost on any of her friends. This was the same girl who once preferred to spend her days in the arcade over studying. The last profession anyone expected Usagi to pursue was teaching.

To which Usagi corrected: Early Childhood Education. To Usagi, there was a massive distinction between being an influential part of a child's development and a sadistic nightmare that preyed upon teens' stress everywhere. Ami commented it was a hyperbolic view of their junior high and high school experience. Usagi disagreed and stood firm on her position. 

Once the shock wore off, everyone saw that Usagi was right. If anyone could do it, it was her. Usagi was fantastic with little kids. She knew how to communicate and rationalize with toddlers and young children. They all agreed and celebrated Usagi taking steps towards maturity and adulthood.

Fast forward four years later, she was reaching the end. It was rough. She loved it, but her schedule was so hectic thanks to her internship and research projects. All her friends took different paths in their careers, and Usagi needed to fend for herself. Usagi learned a lot about her limits for the first time but was proud of how far she had come. 

Things took a turn recently.

It started relatively harmless. Mild nausea, not the worst. Usagi drank down some good old-fashioned Ohta-Isan to push through the day. 

When her nausea didn't go away - Usagi felt concerned. Nausea evolved into vomiting.

She'd wake up in the morning and make a b-line straight to the toilet, praying to the porcelain Gods. Usagi tried to figure out if the food she'd eaten had gone bad, but the food Mamoru cooked was fresh. The leftovers tasted fine, with no weird tastes or funky, pungent odors. It'd further weird her out when she'd see Mamoru feeling fine, like nothing was wrong. Usagi considered the possibility of allergies, that was until...

The erratic emotions made their ugly appearance.

The most minor thing set her off, leaving her a sobbing mess. The word crybaby was often associated with Usagi, a fact she'd never deny. Unlike her usual crybaby moments, she'd cry over the most mundane situations. A few weeks ago, Mamoru banged his knee against the couch and cursed in response. Usagi took it as a personal attack and locked herself in the bathroom, crying. He apologized but didn't understand why he needed to. She didn't know why either. 

Then came the sudden heightened sense of smell. A bin of trash emitted foul odors that only she noticed. The fumes were enough to trigger her vomiting, continuing the vicious cycle. Usagi felt convinced that she'd eaten something funky. It had to be. Until Usagi decided to google her symptoms on her phone did reality start to set:

Nausea.
Vomiting.
Hormones going crazy.
Heightened sense of smell.
Also, her boobs hurt. Like a whole lot.
No period.

The last part got to Usagi the most. How she failed to notice something so simple was anyone's guess. For her own sake, she rationalized that it had to do with her busy and stressful schedule. 

Either way, it didn't excuse all signs were pointing to one diagnosis: She was pregnant.

When she looked at her body in the mirror, she wasn't showing. Nothing looked different. She thought the weight she gained was due to the stress of her final year. Usagi decided that the way she'd confirm her suspicions was to take a test. On a free day for Usagi, while Mamoru was away at work, she went to the store to buy a pregnancy test.

When Usagi got home, she made sure to read the instructions a few times before committing to the plan. She needed to be sure she was doing it right. The moment the test revealed the results, she went into immediate denial. She thought she screwed up. Maybe her timing was off, or the test was defective. Usagi decided to go back out and buy another test. On the way, she hunted down a rare bin to throw away the used test.

It turned out she did the test right the first time. The same result was displayed on the second try. Shock and fear began to replace denial. She wanted to believe she got it wrong, but she did everything correctly. Twice. 

'Oh shit.'

Usagi could pinpoint the night when she and Mamoru conceived their future child. It was very early October, following a Halloween party the Outers threw at their place. Mamoru agreed to Usagi's plan to dress up as Waluigi and Wario, respectively. It was hilarious and cute that she convinced her fiance to dress up as a silly video game character. They had fun, got drunk, took a cab home, and did not stop partying when they got back.

For the life of her, she could not recall if they used protection that night. 

And here she was, walking down the sidewalk in the middle of winter. Mamoru started to ask questions about the symptoms Usagi experienced. She was beginning to run out of excuses for her condition. Using stress as an excuse started to run its course, and it was only a matter of time until it was apparent. Usagi knew it was now or never, but she wanted to do it right.

Buying some gifts could provide an appropriate surprise and sentimentality. She didn't know what to get that'd be perfect. 

The bun-headed woman looked down at the sidewalk, not paying attention to what was in front of her. Her eyes occasionally gazed towards her abdomen. Usagi had so many questions for herself. The one that repeated the most was: how would she be as a mom? The uncertainty and anxiety welled up in her body. It was overwhelming.

Without any thought, her gloved hand moved towards her abdomen. Softly rubbing against the heavy fabric of the jacket, feeling a slight sense of relief. The fetus was in the early stages of development, but she was already in love. The timing could not have been worse, but it couldn't have been better. It was a whirlwind of conflicting emotions, and Usagi wouldn't trade it for the world.

Usagi was so wrapped up in her thoughts she failed to look where she was walking. A person stood in front of her attempting to get Usagi's attention. It didn't hit her until she strolled into the figure and almost fell back.

The person she walked into had fast reflexes. They grabbed her shoulders and helped steady Usagi from falling.

"Bun-head, you need to watch where you're going." Said a familiar husky voice.

Usagi looked at the ground, towards the figure, back to the ground, and back up. Usagi's eyes were wide, and her mouth opened in surprise. Hoping the person in front of her didn't connect why she was so spaced out. It took a few moments to register who she collided with.

"Ha-Haruka!"

"In the flesh," Haruka smirked at her clumsy friend. The smirk fell when Haruka noticed Usagi's frown and far away gaze. 

"You okay, Usagi? I tried to get your attention before you walked into me." Haruka asked. Usagi rubbed the back of her neck out of embarrassment.

"Oh! It's, uh, nothing!"

Haruka examined her shorter friend. "Hm. By the looks of it, you must be hungry."

"Huh?" Usagi tilted her head, caught off guard by the observation.

"Oh, I saw you rubbing your stomach. I always took that as the international sign of 'Usagi is hungry and needs food’ before it's too late." 

Usagi forced a smile and a hesitant laugh, "oh, right. Yeah. Food." Usagi stiffly nodded, "I like to eat. Food. That is. I eat food."

"Uh, yeah, that's kind of your thing."

There was an awkward silence, carried by a brief wind chill to further accentuate the awkwardness. Haruka clicked her tongue, finding the words she needed to say, and broke the silence first. "If you're hungry, we can grab some ramen. My treat?"

Usagi's eyes brightened, and she nodded. Food sounded like a beautiful distraction. She walked with Haruka to a nearby Ramen shop. Usagi could never turn down food, and she knew the foods to avoid. Ramen, thankfully, wasn't one of those foods.

The shop was a short, quiet walk from where they met. They entered the shop, greeted the owner, and took their seats at the bar front. The owner took their orders, and the fellow cook began to prepare their meals. The owner brought them their drinks and returned to his work. Usagi stared into her glass of water. Her hands fidgeted with the straw as if she was taking time removing the wrapper. Haruka raised an eyebrow, taking notice of how faraway Usagi looked. She waved a hand in front of Usagi's face.

"Earth to bun-head, you okay?"

Usagi snapped her attention back to the present, "Oh. Sorry. I've got a lot on my mind."

"Yeah? I can understand the feeling."

Usagi took the opportunity to deviate from herself and focus on her friend. "Everything okay, Haruka? Are you and Michiru alright?" 

Haruka took a second to process and nodded, "yeah, no. We're good. I miss her, is all."

Usagi recalled that the night of the fun Halloween party. It was also a bit of a going-away party for Michiru. She was leaving the country. Michiru had a busy schedule for the fall and winter. She was to go on tour across Europe and record a film score in Berlin. It meant Haruka was a lonely soul due to her commitments at home not aligning with her partner's schedule. 

Usagi folded her arms on the bar top and laid her head down. "I'm sorry, Haruka. Do you know when she'll be back?"

Haruka responded with a shrug of her shoulders. Her attention turned to the cook reaching for the handle of the noodle basket in the boiling pot. Draining the water from the noodles, they dropped the proper proportions into each bowl. "Hard to say at the moment. We talked last night. She's working with a director and composing music that would fit with the theme of the film."

"Whoa. Awesome! It's so cool she's making music for a movie! Is it some fancy European film?"

"I know it's British, and it's supposed to be some coming-of-age movie." Haruka smiled at Usagi, "Sorry, I don't know too much about it. She seems to be enjoying herself, and I'm happy for her. But," Haruka paused to let out a sigh, "we miss each other like crazy. It's been a while since we had to be apart."

Usagi nodded in agreement, "Yeah… I felt the same when Mamo-chan went abroad to America. It was hard to be away from him for so long."

"You do get it." Haruka smiled at her, "I'm sure you understand this sentiment, but for me, it's never the same when she's gone." Haruka pulled out her phone, pressing the button on the side to display the lock screen. The picture on the screen was of Haruka and Michiru dressed up as Gomez and Morticia Addams for their Halloween party. She smiled at the image, "It makes me feel thankful for technology - being able to do video chats. They help, but..."

Usagi finished Haruka’s sentence, "... It's not the same?"

Haruka nodded. "Well, I guess it's true, right? Absence makes the heart grow fonder."

The bun-headed woman smiled at Haruka. She was right. Usagi remembered how much excitement she felt when Mamoru returned. She also remembered her heart skipping a beat when Mamoru got down on one knee and proposed. Usagi melted that night, happy to become Mamoru's fiancee. They originally planned for a wedding after Usagi finished University. The realization hit her that they may need to move their plans ahead of schedule thanks to the little bun(head) in the oven.

Haruka put away her phone, "But, there is a silver lining."

"...oh?"

"Yeah, so with all the PR and events I've crammed into the last few months, I managed to squeeze out about two weeks of free time. And I bought a ticket to Berlin!" Haruka beamed, her excitement infectious as Usagi shared the same mirthful expression back.

"That's awesome, Haruka!"

"I'm hoping to surprise her at the hotel she's staying at. But…" Haruka held the last word a little long. "... Enough about me. What about you? What's got you down? Normally you'd be in the zone to eat."

Usagi gave a polite smile in return to Haruka. She wasn't sure how to bring it up. Putting her thoughts into words meant speaking the pregnancy into existence. She wanted to say something but opted to gesticulate and avoid the subject.

"I don't know how to describe it. It's hard to say."

Haruka nodded in understanding, "I get it. I am going to ask to make sure: are you and Mamoru okay?"

Usagi contemplated on the question. The news was significant for both of them. It was life-changing for the couple. 

"Um. Er. Yeah. No, we're great. More than great. It's been so busy with school and work."

Haruka tried to read between the lines as best she could. She scrunched her face to gauge Usagi's anxious look. Who was she kidding? She wasn't Michiru. Compared to Michiru and Rei, her intuition left a lot to be desired. This made her miss Michiru more. She accepted defeat at her attempt to analyze her friend.

"I won't push you, but if you need to talk about anything, you can always tell me."

Usagi looked out in the distance beyond the walls of the ramen shop and nodded. Her eyes gave away that she had a lot on her mind. Still, her face twisted in difficulty communicating her thoughts out in the open.

Their food arrived, and they ate in relative silence. Usagi appreciated the company Haruka was willing to give. She noted how much Haruka had grown over the years too. She was no longer a devil may care flirt who'd hit on any girl with reckless abandon. Being part of a co-parent trio and in a committed relationship for nearly a decade grounded her out. Haruka's transition into adulthood appeared seamless to Usagi, who was still figuring it out. To be fair, Haruka had to grow up fast at a young age.

To be even fairer, they all did.

Time passed while Usagi stared and slowly ate her ramen. The thoughts came to her mind, Haruka and co-parenting .

She finally spoke up. "Hey, Haruka?"

Haruka hummed in the affirmative while slurping her noodles.

"How do you think you are as a parent?"

Haruka was taken aback by the question. She finished slurping her noodles and laid her chopsticks on top of her bowl. She took a moment to contemplate Usagi's question.

"It's hard to say. I try my best with Hotaru. She deserves a stable home, surrounded by people who not only love her but understand her. It's not perfect all the time, but I'm wiser for the experience."

Haruka tried to answer in the best way she could. The look on her face was thoughtful as she rubbed her chin. She tried to understand the nature of Usagi's inquiry. Usagi took her line of questioning one step further and, in a quiet voice, "Do you think I'd be a good mom?"

Once again, Haruka was trying to read between the lines of Usagi's question. There was something there. She just couldn't see it. Haruka rubbed the back of her neck, trying to figure out the best response.

"Hm. I think you have the potential to be, you're lovely and kind. Your love is unconditional, and you're very protective of those you care about…." Haruka's voice trailed off, and her eyes widened as she saw Usagi tearing up. 

‘Oh no.’

Usagi could not hold back her hormones any longer. They were such a burden, thanks to the baby.

"I'm pregnant," She blurted out.

The chopping of vegetables ceased. The sound of a ladle dropped on the ground.

All eyes fell on Usagi. For a moment, it felt like the world stopped rotating. The cook and the shopkeeper both looked at the bun-headed woman and each other, they felt caught in the middle of something very personal. Haruka turned over to both workers, giving them a scowl to mind their own business. They both turned around and pretended, for a moment, they were working. Haruka looked back at Usagi and resumed her shock.

"Y-you're…"

"Yes."

"W-with Mamo…"

"Yes."

"H-how long…"

"At least three months. Maybe closer to four."

"D-does h-he…"

"No. I haven't said anything. To anyone ." Usagi put extra emphasis on the word 'anyone' to make her point crystal clear.

It was Haruka's turn to feel overwhelmed. Of all the days she ran into bun-head, it's the day Usagi reveals she's pregnant with Mamoru's child.

Usagi felt a massive weight off her chest. It felt good to say something. Her tears slowed to a halt, but it seemed some of her hormones may have rubbed off on Haruka. Haruka's eyes were glassy. She couldn't hide it. She took a moment to take in a few breaths, using the sleeve of her flannel to wipe the tears from her face and try to regain her composure.

"Sorry, I just need to absorb this information. It's incredible!"

"Haruka, please don't say anything to anyone." Usagi grabbed Haruka’s sleeve, tugging in desperation. Her eyes pleaded for confidentiality from her friend.

Haruka pinched her fingers together and made a horizontal motion over her lips, "my lips are sealed."

Usagi tilted her head and raised an eyebrow in skepticism, not totally believing her.

"Okay, it's very possible if Michiru notices something off with my mindset or attitude, she may get it out of me. I can't guarantee that I won't break down and tell her." She held up a finger, "BUT! I can guarantee that she won't say a word. To anyone."

Usagi had to roll with the compromise. The teal-haired woman would fare a lot better with keeping secrets compared to Haruka. It was evident to Usagi that Michiru had Haruka wrapped around her pinky. It was cute as much as it was amusing. 

"Okay. I trust Michiru to not say anything. And by extension, I trust you not to say anything to anyone else." Usagi laid her hands flat on the counter, "I need to tell Mamoru, but I don't know how."

The tall blonde nodded in agreement, "yeah, this is big news for both of you. Do you have any ideas on how you're going to do it?"

"I did think of something. I wanted to get him these little gifts that may seem a bit vague at first. Like they won't make sense until he got the very last present which would be a, I don't know, bib or a baby book or something. I haven't gotten too far."

"So far it's an adorable idea."

"You think so?"

"Absolutely. If I was Mamoru, I'd probably cry and be happy once I put two and two together."

Haruka picked up her chopsticks and stirred her bowl around, "Do you plan to tell anyone else?"

"No. Not yet. I have an appointment with my OBGYN tomorrow. I wanted to make sure everything was going to be okay before I make an announcement."

"Yeah, that seems completely fair." Haruka went to finish her bowl of noodles. Usagi followed suit, the wave of emotion passing through to give her the energy to continue eating. Both picked up their bowls and slurped the broth simultaneously. Haruka pulled out her wallet from her jacket pocket and laid the money down. The owner thanked them and gave Usagi a small congratulations as they got up, put their jackets on, and walked out.

"Haruka, can you come with me while I pick up some things? I don't want to be alone right now."

"Sure. To be honest, before you walked into me, I was clearing my mind. It works out for both of us. Where to?"

"There's a bookstore a few blocks away. They have some nice little trinkets and books that I want to browse."

Haruka extended her hand out towards the sidewalk ahead, giving her friend a soft smile, "lead the way."

As they walked in the cold, a light dusting of snow began to fall on them. Haruka pulled out a beanie from her jacket pocket and put it over her head. Haruka nudged her friend.

"Thanks for telling me."

"Thanks for listening."

"I appreciate that you felt you could say something to me. I know when we were teens I was kind of a…"

"... jerk." Usagi finished.

Haruka chuckled, "Yeah. I regret that. Michiru and I both do."

"I get it."

"Oh?"

"The first time, you two were stubborn beyond belief. The second time around, you were trying to fulfill your duties. Things aren't like the way they were in the past, they are to some degree, but the Earth evolved without the old world. New problems require new solutions."

Haruka nodded, "I don't think I'm always going to get it, but I understand what you're saying."

"The most important thing is that we all work as a team. Individually, we’re weak and limited. But together, nothing can stop us. Or it would take a whole lot to stop us."

"You're really wise beyond your years, you know that?"

"I had to be. Just like you." Usagi poked Haruka's arm to emphasize her point.

"That's not true for me, not all the time. Sometimes I lose sight of what matters and do something stupid."

"Well, from the things I've read, admitting you don't know everything is pretty smart. You have to have the wisdom to acknowledge it."

Haruka playfully elbowed Usagi and grinned, "You've really grown into your own. You're gonna do fine. You've got all of us to support you."

Overtaken by emotions - and hormones - Usagi felt touched by Haruka's words. She sniffed and wiped a tear from her face. Usagi stopped walking and pulled the tall blonde into a tight hug. Haruka returned the hug but kept it gentle, fully aware of what was between them. Haruka patted Usagi on the back, "we're all here for you. And when the baby arrives, you'll have so many babysitters at your disposal." 

They both laughed at Haruka's observation. It was true. Usagi and Mamoru had so much love and support surrounding them. 

The two of them continued to walk until they reached the store and went inside. The cashier greeted them, and they returned the gesture. The small store contained gifts and books arranged by genre and alphabetical order. Usagi walked through the aisle of books, looking over the categories until she reached the section regarding childcare and pregnancy. Haruka kept her attention on the magazine rack by the counter. Her eyes darted around for any new racing and mechanics magazine that she didn't buy for the month. Finding one of interest, she pulled it off the rack and examined the contents inside.

"Excuse me." A soft feminine voice reached Haruka's attention. She looked up from her magazine and turned her sight to who was speaking. 

In front of Haruka stood a beautiful woman, likely around her mid-twenties. Dressed in a fitting, appropriately cut pale pink wool winter coat, leggings, and pink snow boots. Her red hair was straight and long, and she wore a white snow cap that covered her head. She was holding a cup of coffee and smiled at Haruka.

"Oh. Sorry, I'll move over." Haruka said, her tone nonchalant as she stepped aside to give the woman space to browse the magazine rack. Haruka went back to reading. The woman stepped forward and scanned the rows of magazines, standing next to Haruka. The redhead observed a magazine towards the top of the rack. She noted the similarity between the person on the cover and the person standing next to her. She grabbed it and compared it, deducing that they were the same.

"You look a lot more handsome in person." The woman held up the magazine to Haruka, pointing at the cover.

Haruka didn't move or glance at the woman, "I guess." She forced a polite smile and flipped a page on her magazine. Her eyebrows raised as she reached a page discussing the latest Bugatti's results on the Nuremberg test track. The Chiron managed to set a new record in speed. She wondered if they peaked with the Veyron, but this was a welcomed improvement.

Haruka looked over past the woman, who was still holding up the magazine, and towards Usagi. Closing the publication and holding under arm, she excused herself and shifted around the woman. Haruka moved to her check on her friend browsing the baby books.

The woman 'harrumphed' and stuck up her nose towards Haruka.

Haruka kneeled down to meet Usagi, who was sitting on the floor. She had a few books open in front of her.

"Which one do you think will hit home for Mamo-chan?" Usagi asked.

"Hm. Definitely the father's guide to pregnancy. He's got to learn what to expect. The title has the subtlety of a brick."

Usagi gave Haruka a wide grin and squealed in excitement, "oh! I got another idea! Follow me to the kid's section." The bun-headed woman got up and grabbed Haruka's arm, pulling her along to follow.

"I should get a book on fairy tales. It'll appear innocent enough, won't raise any suspicions at first." Usagi clapped her hands in excitement. They rounded the corner to the next aisle that was for children's books.

"Do you think I should keep it classic? Or get something modern?" Usagi said while browsing each and every title.

"Hm. You can never beat the classics. That's what I'd go with." Haruka eyed the various titles of old and new children's literature. Her fingers brushed the spine of a few, running along with the books until she found one that caught her eye. She pulled it out and showed it to Usagi, "We used to read this to Hotaru when she was tiny."

Usagi leaned in and read the title," The Cat Who Lived A Million Lives?" 

Haruka chuckled, "yeah. I guess it's a little apropos for Hotaru. It was Michiru's idea." She put the book away and examined the row further, pulling out another title. "Here. This one might be up your alley. It's charming, and one of Hotaru's favorites. It's about two mice who enjoy cooking and eating."

The book's cover was straightforward, a white background showing a colored illustration of two mice holding a basket. Usagi giggled. "I like this! Mamoru wouldn't think twice if I gave this to him."

Taking the book from Haruka, she opened it to examine its contents. The colors were vivid, and the story looked so cute - just as Haruka said - two mice who are friends and enjoy cooking and eating. She felt her lips curl into a wide smile as she closed the book, holding it close to her.

"I think these will do just fine." Usagi took a look around the store. Usagi gasped, an idea formed in her head. "Oh! I wonder…" she trailed off and walked up towards the front counter where the sales associate finished ringing up the woman from earlier. 

The woman noticed Haruka from the corner of her eye and loudly 'harrumphed.' The woman took her purchase and exited the shop. Usagi turned to look at Haruka, raising an eyebrow. Her face read, 'what did you do this time?'

Haruka shrugged her shoulders, confused by the other woman. "Your guess is as good as mine, bun-head."

The sales associate greeted Usagi as she walked up to the counter. "Hi! Do you have those tiny personalized calendars? Especially ones that tell dad jokes?"

The sales associate took a moment to think. She moved away from the counter and waved a hand. "Follow me, please."

The sales associate took Usagi to the wall opposite the register and examined the racks - finding a small paper calendar with colorful printing. "This may be what you're looking for."

The two bowed in thanks, and Usagi examined the little calendar. Classic Japanese dad jokes, one dad joke for three hundred and sixty-five days. Usagi didn't believe there were that many dad jokes but felt impressed that it existed. Usagi looked over to her right to find the gift packages. She examined each one, finding the appropriate sizes for each item.

"Hm. I think that'll do it." Usagi decided. She returned back to the counter, laying the contents on the counter for the associate to process. 

"Would you like me to put the items in the gift boxes for you?"

Usagi nodded, "yes, thank you."

The associate smiled at her and started to put the gifts together. "It'll be just a moment."

Haruka wandered around while she waited for Usagi to finish up her purchase.

Usagi pulled out her wallet from her purse, laid the money on the tray, and completed the transaction. The associate thanked her for her purchase. Haruka came up to the counter to purchase her magazine once Usagi walked away.

They exited the store and looked up at the snow falling on them. 

"Hey. I have an idea, would you mind if we take a little detour…" Haruka's voice trailed off.

"Sure, what were you thinking?"

"Something that may help take the edge off for Mamoru once he finds out."

Usagi did not know what Haruka meant by 'taking the edge off’ but followed her friend as she walked towards a small liquor store. "Just trust me on this. Wait here."

Haruka walked in, greeted the clerk. Usagi could see through the window that Haruka was pointing towards something behind the register. The clerk showed Haruka the mystery item. She nodded, paid for it and walked out. "Stick out your hand."

Usagi complied, and Haruka handed her a small bottle of bourbon. 

"Ohhhh, that's what you meant by taking the edge off."

The tall blonde laughed, "yeah! I think the news is going to overwhelm him in a good way. Why not have a little celebration shot?"

Taking the gift and putting it into her pocket, Usagi looked up at Haruka. "Thank you so much, Haruka."

"Any time. I'm honored to be the first one to find out."

Their smiles grew, the two of them appreciated their time bonding together. Usagi was happy to have friends like Haruka. 

"Well, if you want. My car isn't far from here. I can drop you off."

The more petite woman pulled her friend into another hug, "thank you."

"It's the least I can do. Besides, I got to get home to start packing. My plane leaves tomorrow afternoon."


A couple of days later.

In Berlin, Germany.

In a hotel room.

"This was the best surprise ever," Michiru nuzzled Haruka's neck. Haruka cooed at the affection. "In all the times you've surprised me, this is definitely one of the best." 

Haruka ran her hands through Michiru's wavy hair, "I couldn't help myself. I missed you so much. The late night video-call's don't compare to seeing you in person."

The two of them giggled and pulled each other into a tight embrace. 

Haruka's plan came into action thanks to the help of Michiru's manager, Tomoyo. They arranged with the hotel staff that Haruka would be staying with Michiru without her knowing. The team ensured that they'd keep the surprise a secret from Michiru during her stay. Once Haruka landed in the nighttime, she rented room at the hotel airport to get some sleep. The following day, she checked out and rented the German classic - Porsche 911 - to help her get to the heart of Berlin. Tomoyo helped keep tabs with the hotel staff when Michiru arrived to settle in her room for the evening. A quick call was made to Michiru, Tomoyo used the excuse to see how the violinist was holding up in Germany. It was a pleasant, brief conversation, enough for Tomoyo to send Haruka a 'thumbs up' emoji to head over to the hotel.

Haruka walked into the lobby and approached the front desk. Introducing herself to the staff, they checked her in and called a bellhop to help lead her to the room. While in the elevator, she asked the bellhop for a favor. The plan was to have the bellhop knock on the door, stating they were there from room service. It was a simple and effective plan.

The bellhop knocked and called out from behind the door that they had Michiru's order. Michiru, perplexed as she did not recall ordering room service. She opened the door revealing the bellhop and her girlfriend, flashing one of her charming smiles. Without hesitation, she grabbed Haruka by the shirt, pulling her into an intense, deep kiss. 

The bellhop quickly threw Haruka's duffle bag into the room, closing the door behind them. Leaving the two alone to reunite after a long period of separation.

Despite the short distance from the door to the bed, it was a miracle they made it to the bed.

Comforters became floor additions.

There was a lot of pent-up tension due to months of being away from each other. 

"I know I could have waited for you to return, but this seemed a lot more fun." 

"How did you manage to get any free time?" 

"My manager had a scheduling oversight. Thank goodness. The best error he's ever made."

Michiru gave Haruka a little peck on the cheek, "hm. I'll have to send him a thank you gift for his error." 

"I could say the same for your manager. She helped arrange my little surprise arrival."

Michiru felt overcome with giddiness, she raised her head to look Haruka in the eyes with a seductive glare, "maybe tonight we can focus on... catching up."

Haruka smirked at the proposal, "I think I like the idea of that." Michiru went in to kiss Haruka again, enjoying the feeling of being with her again. Haruka returned Michiru's kiss. Haruka let out a small satisfying hum while kissing her love, a wave of content washing over her. 

Haruka's phone buzzed a few times. A little notification chirp alerted Haruka to an incoming text message. With a regretful sigh, Haruka pulled away to check who was messaging her. She rolled her eyes to Michiru, commenting, "I have to check if it's from my manager." 

Michiru pouted, but understood. Their professional lives occasionally got in the way of their personal time. It wasn't often but it was better safe than sorry.

Haruka reached over to the nightstand to see who had texted her. Her eyes widened when it came from Usagi - it was a video message.

Haruka gasped, Michiru looked confused. "What is it, Haruka?"

"If this is what I think this is…" she unlocked her phone and opened the video, "Trust me. Just watch."

Haruka pressed play on the video and held it up for both to see. Michiru made herself comfortable laying her head on Haruka's shoulder. Michiru watched the screen to figure out what Haruka was talking about.

"Mamo-chan." Came a meek and almost quiet voice of Usagi. The video was dark.

"Yes, Usako?"

"Can you sit down on the couch for me? I have something I want to give you." 

"Sure thing. What's the occasion?" The video pulled away from the darkness, auto-adjusted to the lighted surroundings. Revealing a relaxed Mamoru, he looked very cozy in his flannel pajamas.

"Wait, Usako, why are you filming me?"

"Because."

"Because?"

"I think you're cute."

Mamoru's laughter was rich and humble, "I disagree. You're the cute one."

Usagi's arm outstretched as she held out the first gift towards Mamoru, "open this."

He took the gift. It was a small box with a little bit of weight to it. Mamoru pulled off the top and pulled out a calendar. He read the description of the calendar. 

"Dad jokes?"

"I thought you could use more jokes in your life."

Mamoru gave Usagi a sideways smile, "Oh. Do you think I'm not funny?"

"Hehe, no! But you'll need to know more jokes."

Mamoru looked at her and tried to read her face from behind the camera. Before he could say anything, she shoved a slightly larger but thinner package, "now open this."

Mamoru grabbed it and ripped the packaging, and looked at the book, noting its title. He stared confused, "A kid's book? Why would I want this?"

Usagi didn't answer but kept going, "hold out your hand, Mamo-chan."

He turned his head around and stared all over the room. Mamoru did not know what was going on. His face was unable to process what Usagi was doing. He tried to get up from the couch, but Usagi pointed a stern finger at him. "No! Don't move! We're almost done."

Mamoru blushed at his fiance's insistence and sat back down. She repeated. "Hold out your hand."

The man, on command, held his hand out, and Usagi handed him the small bottle of bourbon. "Hold on to that. You're going to need it."

Haruka quipped, "that was my idea."

Michiru looked at her. She felt as confused as Mamoru was with Usagi. Instead of pressing, she returned her gaze back to the phone. In time to see Mamoru receiving a more significant, rectangular gift box from Usagi. 

He lifted the lid of the box, and at first, his expression was unreadable. Mamoru put a hand over his mouth. The two of them were silent as he started to pull out a baby bib, followed by a baby bottle and another book: A father's guide to pregnancy.

Mamoru looked frozen in place as if he'd seen a ghost. He looked back up to Usagi, his eyes tearing up, and sniffed. "You mean… you are… and I am… we are..."

"I'm pregnant, Mamo-chan."

Michiru gasped. She felt herself welling up full of emotion. Tears started to form in both hers and Haruka's eyes as they watched Mamoru realize he would be a father.

"Usako…" Mamoru lifted himself up from the couch and walked towards Usagi. The phone went dark again, the sounds muffled between the two, but it was easy to hear them expressing their love. 

The video ends.

A notification pushed a picture of an empty little bottle followed by the message 'he drank it lol'

It was Michiru’s turn to stare, shocked and surprised. Her girlfriend knew and, somehow, managed to hide it from Michiru of all people. Michiru rolled on top of Haruka. It was time for punishment. Michiru playfully pinched Haruka in the stomach and tried to tickle her, attempting to interrogate her lover. 

"You knew! How did you know? How did you manage not to tell me?" Haruka laughed and tried to escape from Michiru's tortuous tickle assault. Haruka felt weak to the attack, unable to avoid Michiru.

"Please, please! I'll tell you! Please, I can't!" Haruka gasped between laughing breaths.

Michiru stopped tickling, moving back to laying on the side of Haruka. She allowed her lover to catch her breath.

"It was the night before I left. I ran into Usagi. Or should I say she ran into me? Without looking." 

Michiru giggled. "Of course she would."

"Yeah, so we got something to eat, and she told me. She was trying to figure out how to tell Mamoru."

"So you helped her?"

"In a way, yeah. I tagged along while she picked some stuff out."

"I recognized that book. Was that also you?"

Haruka winked at Michiru, "maybe. Maybe not."

"You are so corny." Michiru leaned into Haruka, kissing her again for a few moments before pulling away.

The two of them cuddled and felt drowsiness overtake them. Michiru spoke up, her voice quiet and heavy with sleep.

"Hey. Haruka."

Haruka hummed in acknowledgment and took in a deep scent of Michiru's hair. Michiru's hands gently caressed her lover's back. The tender, repetitive motion brought Haruka closer to sleep.

"Have you ever thought about having more kids?"

Haruka's eyes shot wide open at the question. Sleep would have to wait for now.

 

End.