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Affection

A tiny little family vignette


Haruka cuddled baby Hotaru tenderly. "You're kinda cute, you know that?"

Hotaru squirmed.

Haruka sniffed at the air, then held Hotaru at arms' length. "She needs her diaper changed," the sky senshi noted.

Setsuna didn't even look up from her computer screen. "So change it."

Haruka tried not to sound plaintive. "Can't you?"

"Don't you know how?"

"Well, I've seen you and Michiru do it..."

"Go on and do it, then. It's not that complicated."

Haruka placed the baby on the floor. Hotaru babbled and kicked her legs. Haruka gingerly peeled back the wrappings, and winced back from the smell. "Ugh..."

Setsuna laughed. "Some tough racer you are."

"I shouldn't have to do this sort of thing. Babies aren't my strong point. Why can't you or Michiru handle this?"

"Michiru can't because she's buying milk for Hotaru. I can't right now because I'm working..."

"...and you want to see me suffer," Haruka said bitterly.

"That may be a factor."

"I can't," Haruka decided, getting to her feet.

"You're just going to leave her there?"

Haruka placed her hands on her hips. "You do it! I refuse!"

"Not a chance. She's your baby too."

"I'm not the motherly type."

"Learn," Setsuna said without a trace of pity.

Hotaru made a pleading sound.

"Oh, for the love of -" Haruka reached for a cloth and swept it firmly across Hotaru's legs, wiping her off with quick sharp motions. "Ew, ew, eeew..." She lifted Hotaru's lower half, sliding a clean diaper under the baby, and fastened it swiftly. "There. Are you happy now?"

Hotaru cooed and drooled.

"Gods," Haruka muttered as she wrapped up the soiled diaper. She pitched it across the room with lazy accuracy, and it thumped into the trash can. "Babies are so disgusting."

Setsuna snickered. "Still think she's cute?"

"No! She's filthy - and inconvenient!"

From the floor, Hotaru whimpered pathetically at Haruka's angry tone of voice.

Haruka crossed her arms. "No, I won't pick you up! You make life so difficult."

Setsuna shook her head, gathering her disks and papers. "You're too hard on her."

"Someone has to be. You and Michiru are such softies."

"But just because you don't like changing her diapers...?"

Haruka didn't answer, and Setsuna shrugged. "Whatever. I'll be back once I've delivered these." She picked up the last of her papers and left the room.

The moment the door closed behind her, Haruka bent quickly and picked up the baby. She calmed Hotaru with gentle touches, murmuring apologies. At length, Hotaru quieted and rested her head on Haruka's shoulder.

"Promise not to tell?" Haruka whispered.

Hotaru nodded sleepily.

Haruka stroked her downy hair. "Good."


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