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Ryoko's Apology

[Notes: An idea I came up with shortly after reading through Tatsumingo's excerpts of True Tenchi Muyo: Yosho. It was a way to try and learn how to write Ryoko and Ayeka, at which I hope I succeeded at least somewhat. It's also fairly cheesy, but what else would you expect from me?

Disclaimer: Tenchi Muyo! and all related characters and concepts are copyrighted to AIC. A brief passage is excerpted from True Tenchi Muyo!: Yosho, translated/summarized by Kaz Tatsumingo and originally written by Masaki Kajishima and Yosuke Kuroda and published by someone else. No profit, save the profit of fun, is made from the publication of this fan fiction.]

It was a typical morning at the Masaki household, the ritual sounds of the shouts of "prissy bitch!" and "monster woman!" breaking what should have been the beginnings of a calm spring day near the mountains of Okayama.

"Why can't you two get along?" Tenchi cried, exasperated, trying to pull himself away from the two girls fighting. He of course was in the middle, with Ryoko tugging at his left arm and Ayeka tugging at his right. "I've had enough of this!" he shouted as loudly as he dared to.

"You see, Ryoko, you've upset Lord Tenchi. Lord Tenchi, why do you tolerate that demon's presence in our home?"

"I don't know why I tolerate either of you!" he snapped, the pain of being yanked at like an unwilling wishbone finally getting to the usually calm boy. Both girls let go of him in shock. He He moved quickly out of arm's reach, frowning frustratedly. Not wanting to say anything more hurtful, but still angry, he simply turned and left the room, massaging a sore shoulder.

"But Tenchi!" both of them started to call, following him. Their way was blocked by a nine-year-old, glaring at them with indignant pink eyes–although the glare was softened by obvious tears forming in the corners of the eyes.

"Leave Tenchi alone!" Sasami demanded, little fists clenching. "Haven't you done enough damage this morning? You already broke the breakfast table, and ripped Tenchi's shirt, and you woke up Mihoshi." Hearing her name, the blonde looked up at the three, sitting at the remains of the table and sipping her tea. Her eyes were also teary, but they always were when people fought.

"She should have been awake anyway," Ryoko muttered. Mihoshi didn't seem to notice.

"It doesn't matter!" Sasami said. "You haven't had a fight this big in ages! What's wrong with you two?"

Ayeka seemed to be surveying the damage she and Ryoko had caused during the morning, as if noticing the first time. "I suppose we did cause a little damage. If only Ryoko weren't so violent-"

"I'm violent? That chair in the window was not my doing, Princess!"

"I was defending myself from a monster!"

"Who are you calling-"

"STOP IT!!!!" Sasami cried as loudly as she could.

"You're upsetting my sister, Ryoko!"

"You're upsetting me, too, Ayeka!" Sasami said forcefully, giving her elder sister a full glare. Ayeka shut her mouth tight, not knowing how to respond. "You're both acting like... like... little kids!" said Sasami. "I'm surprised Tenchi doesn't hate you both!" she added, stamping her foot for emphasis. "All you two do is fight, and neither of you try to stop it. And you started this fight, Ayeka, I heard the whole thing. Am I right, Mihoshi?"

Mihoshi's eyes went wide. "Uh, well, Ayeka was the one who mentioned where Ryoko should put her-"

"Fine! Make it my fault! Everyone can side with the damned demon!" Ayeka turned and walked out of the dining room with a huff.

"Ayeka!" Sasami called out to her sister, but to no avail. She looked back at Ryoko. "Why do you two hate each other so much?"

Ryoko shrugged, leaning back to sit down as if a chair were behind her. She did sit, but on nothing, hovering crosslegged like a genie. "I don't hate your sister, Sasami." She looked at Sasami and tried to smile, showing she was telling the truth. "She just makes me so mad! She calls me all those names and... I can't stand the idea of her getting Tenchi. I'm really... I really don't want Tenchi to think I'm a monster and I'm afraid he's going to start believing her."

"Neither of you are going to get Tenchi if you keep fighting like this. Did you see how upset he was this morning?"

Ryoko scratched her chin, thinking about it. "I guess he was, wasn't he? But Tenchi will forgive me-"

Sasami raised a skeptical eyebrow.

"He was really upset?"

Sasami nodded. Ryoko looked to Mihoshi for a second opinion, who also nodded. Ryo-ohki, sitting on a piece of broken table, miyaed her vote for the affirmative.

"And Ayeka may call you names, but you tease her, too. A lot." Sasami crossed her arms.

"It's fun to tease her. Do you know how easy it is to get a rise out of your sister?"

"Ayeka doesn't think it's fun."

"She should know I'm playing by now."

Sasami pointed to the broken table and the broken window.

Ryoko sighed and scratched the back of her head. "I guess it gets out of hand from time to time, eh? Well, I guess I should apologize to Tenchi, huh?"

"And Ayeka."

"You can't be serious."

"I am serious. Ryoko, we can't go on like this! One day you or Ayeka are going to hurt someone. You have to talk to her!" Sasami insister, her large rose-colored eyes shimmering in a concerned plea. Ryoko could withstand extreme heat and cold, high-powered energy attacks, and had endured centuries of exile and torture. Those wide child's eyes, however, were a force difficult to resist.

She sighed. "Why me?"

"Because you're the one who fights with her! And one of you has to make the first move."

"Why me?"

"Ryoko..." Sasami's eyes grew even bigger.

Ryoko crossed her arms and scowled. "She won't listen to me. She thinks I'm a monster."

"Then prove to her you're not, Ryoko!" Sasami frowned. "Look, Ayeka remembers the attack on Jurai..." Sasami bit her lip, not knowing how to continue.

Ryoko's eyes softened, and she looked out the window. "So do I." She looked back at Sasami. "Okay, kid. I'll talk to her. But if another fight breaks out, it's not my fault, okay? And just remember, I'm doing this for Tenchi." Ryoko patted Sasami on the head and disappeared.

Sasami looked at Mihoshi. "Do you think it'll work?" Sasami asked.

Mihoshi shrugged and looked doubtfully at her tea.

******************

"I can't believe I was talked into this," Ryoko grumbled, walking along a wooded path near the shrine.

"Miiaow?" Ryo-ohki commented, trotting alongside her owner.

"Don't you even start," Ryoko said. "I bet you're in on this. You spend more time with Sasami than me these days."

"Miaow?" Ryo-ohki stopped and looked at Ryoko seriously.

"No, I'm not that lonely," Ryoko chuckled at the little creature. "And yes, Sasami is very nice," Ryoko added. "I'm surprised she and Ayeka are related."

"Meow," Ryo-ohki said critically.

"I know. But what am I supposed to do?" Ryoko slumped down by a tree. "She probably wouldn't listen to me even if I did try to stop her. She hates me. She hates me for loving Tenchi, she hates me for what happened on Jurai seven hundred years ago, and she hates me for... for just being me. Sometimes I think she's playing and having fun, and sometimes I just don't know... I think she really does want me dead. I can't make up for anything I've done, and I can't stop loving Tenchi... and I won't let her get him either."

Ryo-ohki put a paw on Ryoko's knee and locked eyes with her mistress.

"So she likes flowers, eh?" Ryoko said, seeing in her mind's eye the cabbit's memory of offering the snow-drop to the sad princess on the day Ryo-ohki had been reborn. "I don't know if flowers are going to..." Her gold eyes suddenly brightened. "That's it! It's a start anyway!" She scritched the cabbit behind the ears. "What'd I do without you, Ryo-ohki? Let's go summon the complex matter generator... and then you can go play with Sasami."

Ryo-ohki meowed happily and followed Ryoko to the lake.

****************

Ayeka had just left her room, having calmed herself down after the morning's events. "I'll apologize to Sasami first, and then I'll go to the fields... I'll have to figure out what to say to..." she broke off as she looked out the upper hall window to see the former space pirate and Ryo-ohki standing by the lake. Ryoko waved her arms and a few large crystals rose out of the lake, which merged and transformed into a small machine. Ayeka had no idea what it was, but it looked like one of Washu's inventions. Ryoko, with a broad grin on her face, flew off with the machine, while Ryo-ohki ran back toward the house.

"I wonder what she's up to?" Ayeka muttered to herself.

****************

Washu came upon Ryoko sitting on the ground near Funaho in the middle of the woods, surrounded by piles of crumpled paper. Some of the paper had rolled into the pond that nourished Funaho's roots. Ryoko was busily sketching something on a large pad–perhaps one of Noboyuki's drafting pads?–her tongue stuck out in concentration as she scrutinized and corrected her work.

Washu stood there quietly, watching her daughter work, a slight smile on her face. "Still a child in some ways..." she whispered quietly to herself. As Ryoko looked up from her work, apparently pleased with what she'd done, Washu stepped out from behind a tree.

"There you are, Ryoko," she said. "Sasami wanted you to come to dinner."

"Tell Sasami I'm busy," Ryoko said, looking back down at her piece of paper and erasing something. "I'll eat later."

"Is my little Ryoko not hungry?"

Ryoko raised an eyebrow at the diminutive scientist. "I'm busy, Washu," she said, grating the sound of the name to make it sound like a curse word.

Washu shrugged. "I'll tell Sasami to set yours aside for you." She started to turn away.

"Washu?" The irritation in Ryoko's voice was gone. Washu turned back to look at her. "Have you ever been to the Jurai Imperial Palace? My memory of it is a little fuzzy."

Ryoko reluctantly showed Washu her design, which the scientist took great interest in examining.

*********************

"Are you sure Ryoko's not mad at me?" a worried Sasami asked Washu as the rest of the group sat around a newly constructed (thanks to Washu) dinner table.

Washu shook her head. "She's busy working on something. In fact, I think in a way, you were one of the people who inspired it."

"Look!" Mihoshi alerted the group, pointing toward the window which overlooked the lake. Several bright flashes were coming from the floating onsen that Ryoko had built over the lake months ago.

"What is she doing?" Tenchi asked.

"Adding on to it, it looks like," Washu said. "Considering the efficiency of my matter generator, it shouldn't take her too long to finish."

"Your matter generator?" Ayeka asked. "I thought this was Ryoko's work."

"The machine belongs to Ryoko. She built the onsen with it, you know. The machine reproduces a design, as long as you have the blueprints first."

"So that's what she's been doing all day," Sasami said. "Let's go see!"

Ayeka, Sasami, Tenchi, Mihoshi, and Ryo-ohki assembled on the deck, watching the flashing lights over the lake, adding odd flares to the sunset behind it. A few minutes later, the flashes finished, with one final flash near the deck which caused all of the people on it to jump.

The last flash had been near the doors which served as portals to the floating onsen. Where there had been two doors labeled "Ladies" and "Tenchi," respectively, a third door appeared, labeled "Ayeka."

"What, she wants to keep me out of the other bath?" Ayeka asked, confused.

Washu shook her head. "I don't think that's quite what she had in mind. Why don't you go in and find out?"

Ayeka raised a suspicious eyebrow.

"Don't worry, I don't think it's a trap," Washu said, smiling knowingly. Ryo-ohki miyaed encouragingly.

"Go on, Ayeka! Go see what it is!" Sasami said, pushing her sister toward the third door.

"Do you know what it is, Sasami?"

Sasami shook her head. "No, but I think you should find out. Pleeeease, Ayeka."

Ayeka sighed. "All right," she said somewhat resignedly. "But if something happens to me, it will be your fault."

"If it looks like there's trouble, we'll be right behind you," Tenchi said soothingly.

Ayeka nodded with a grateful smile and went through the door.

Ayeka found herself not in a new bath area, but in a garden. It was not a perfect replica, but given the designs in the stone walls that surrounded the edges and the abundance of flora native only to Jurai, it looked very much one of the gardens in the Imperial Palace.

Her memory raced back to what was only a few years ago to her, although in reality (due to Ayeka being in suspended animation while searching for Yosho) was centuries ago. Seven hundred years, in fact:

Numerous beams struck Ryu-oh, and Ayeka reflected all of them with her Light Hawk Wings, though one of the beams hit the Tenjyu where Ayeka's best garden was.

"My favorite garden! You... I won't forgive you, you pirate!" screamed Ayeka.

"Oh, yeah? So that's your favorite garden? HAHAHA," laughed Ryoko, and then she purposely fired into that area. The flowers and trees in that garden, which Ayeka loved, burned down to the ground in no time.

The violet-haired woman shook her head, trying to release the feelings of fear and anger that came with that memory. She looked out into the garden she now stood in. Cool water filled a fountain in the middle, and even red and black carp swam around in its depths. Smooth stone walkways led around the fountain and through the different flower beds. It was smaller than her old garden, she noted, although there were more flowers in it, the beds as full was possible with all kinds of blooms. A few of them were not Juraian, but native to Earth, including a familiar white flower of the kind she remembered a certain cabbit offering her when this adventure had just begun.

Ayeka walked around slowly, almost expecting something to jump out from behind a statue, or the flowers to reach out and grab her. Nothing of the sort happened. The peacefulness of the design pervaded the area.

"This won't undo the crimes you committed, you know," Ayeka called out.

"I know." Ryoko's voice came from behind her, along with the strange, brief musical sound that came with her materializing. "Nothing ever will. I just... knew I owed you something, and this is the best I can do right now." Her voice was soft, apologetic even–a tone of voice Ryoko was usually loathe to let Ayeka hear.

Both were silent for awhile, the trickling of the fountain providing the only sound in the area.

Ayeka slowly turned toward Ryoko, who was hovering over a cluster of royal teardrops. The former space pirate was looking at her feet. Ayeka compared in her mind the image of this shyly slouching Ryoko with the snarling battle demon she had encountered years ago, and as she did so, something else occurred to her. "Ms. Ryoko," Ayeka said. "Could you and the Ryo-ohki, at full power, destroy a second generation Jurai Tree ship that had no proper armor?"

Ryoko looked at Ayeka. "Easily," she said in a serious tone, and Ayeka knew she was telling the truth.

There was another long moment of silence. Ayeka was the one to break it again. "Then I suppose I should be glad... at the time... you chose to exact your wrath on my old garden and not me." Her lips slowly turned up at their corners.

"Ayeka?"

"Yes, Ms. Ryoko?"

"Do you think I'm still a monster?" Ryoko's eyes were wide, suddenly pleading.

Ayeka smiled a little wider. "Only when you choose to be, Ms. Ryoko."

Ryoko suddenly grinned. "And am I glad I have that choice," she said, the former pirate's bravado suddenly returned. She floated toward the princess and poked her lightly on the shoulder. "But you better look out, in case I choose to be." She sneered, but her eyes were still playful.

"And you will learn that I can defend myself most capably," Ayeka said, crossing her arms imperiously. "And don't think for a minute, Ms. Ryoko, that this little peace offering will cause me to overlook your injurious advances toward Lord Tenchi."

"My injurious advances? Oh, Princess, that's one fight that isn't over yet." Ryoko grinned again, and Ayeka returned the smile.

"But for the sake of our companions, and especially Lord Tenchi, let's remember to take it outside from now on, shall we?"

"You're on, sister," Ryoko said, holding her hand out to Ayeka.

Ayeka clasped Ryoko's hand firmly. "I look forward to your next challenge, Ms. Ryoko."

[More notes: If you think it's out of character for Sasami to threaten that Tenchi might "hate" Ryoko and Ayeka, remember she also threatened her father that she would "hate" him–childlike exaggeration, ne?]


Death Quaker's Realm All original materials © 2003 R. Pickard. Tenchi Muyo! and all related concepts belong to AIC.
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