Chapter 3: Unseen actions, Unforeseen Consequences
A Tenchi Muyo Fanfic
Disclaimer: Tenchi Muyo!, its characters and settings, © Hitoshi Okuda, AIC / Pioneer LDC, and Viz Communications, Inc.
Introduction: This Fanfic is based upon the timeline set forth by the Tenchi OAV series, and takes place after the final episode thereof. Some minor things are borrowed from Magical Project S.
Friendship is a strange emotion. It is not as overtly powerful as other emotions such as anger, hatred, or even love. Even so, the emotion is not to be underestimated, as it has proven its power time and time again.
The roots of friendship are not always understood. Usually, people who are alike in form, mind, or status become friends out of association of things they like, usually themselves. This type of friendship can be very shallow or extremely deep, depending on many factors.
Sometimes, though, people who no one would ever expect to get along become friends very quickly. Seeming opposites; an outspoken TV announcer is best friends with the quiet librarian, an auto mechanic meets nightly for board games with his best friend from the country club, the body builder makes his free time with his childhood buddy who cannot lift his own weight. The lists are endless, and though they are not the norm, they serve as reminders that the meaning of a friendship with a particular person is not always due to seeing something someone likes in themselves.
Sometimes, it's the opposite.
- Hakubi Washuu-chan. 'Memoirs of a Super-Genius'
Washuu frantically typed at the insubstantial keyboard, her mind moving just as quickly over the events that had just unfolded. Her concern was etched upon her features as she initiated a search, trying to pinpoint just where Tsunami had taken Misao and Sasami. A moment later she allocated two more satellites and dispatched several additional audio sensors so she could get an uplink going once they found something. That is, if they found something.
She sat back and tried to get a grip on the situation. Through the viewpoint of the satellite, Washuu had seen everything, the head bully's injury, the boy that had threatened Tsunami when Misao was down; even Tsunami's appearance on the scene. The thing that was so scary about it was the method of her appearance.
Washuu remembered the incident vividly. Sasami stepping backwards, then falling to one knee. For a brief instant, there was a cyclone of water around her, rising three to four feet in the air, and then disappearing instantaneously. In the brief moment, Sasami disappeared, Tsunami taking her place, the sequence only taking a few seconds. After which Tsunami turned around, placed her hand upon the sobbing girl's head. She went silent.
Tsunami had taken Sasami's place. The standoff that followed was odd. For one, she talked very indirectly to the lead bully, almost as if he was an interpreter, and she was talking to someone else through him. What she said was just as strange.
"I will not allow you to hurt either of these children," she had said.
Either? At that point, there was only Misao present, unless…
"They were in the same body?" Washuu said incredulously to herself. "Does that mean they were merged?"
From what Tsunami had said, that frightful night at the hot springs when everyone discovered the truth about Sasami, their merging would not occur until much later when Sasami reached maturity. The fact that this event had happened now could indicate something very wrong.
Her thoughts raced wildly about the implications, and the motives. Was the true merging taking place? Or was this just Tsunami taking control of Sasami's body? Couldn't Tsunami have used less direct methods? These were elementary school children after all, no matter how vicious they were.
Washuu glanced at one screen, still monitoring the scene. The boy that had run off had now returned, leading an older man in a business suit. The man rushed up to examine the boy. Washuu watched as he went to the boy's aid. He tried to get the bully leader to relax and release his grip on his injured leg at the knee. The boy was stubborn and would not let go. Looking at the scene around, she watched as she saw a person in a medical outfit arrive on the scene, followed by two others.
They moved the man and the mobile child to the side as they went to work on the injured one. She watched the uninjured boy, Shohei as he anxiously watched his sempai worked on. It then struck her as odd that the other boy was nowhere in the scene.
'Oh, well' she thought after a moment. 'Probably just frightened by what happened.'
Indeed, Tsunami had used an incredible amount of force in this incident. She wondered for a moment if it was safe for Sasami's small body to wield that amount of power, even in Tsunami's form. She stopped, realizing she had just struck on the answer.
"Power! Of course!" she said, raising both her fists into the air and making an action as if to pound repeatedly on an invisible door. Jurai power left a very distinct signature behind, she should be able to easily trace it; with her own sensors on the scene, the readings should be fairly accurate as well.
"Kegani, show me a bipolar graph of Jurai-type power activity of this planet, on lower right corner of location on monitor 34, graph type 3, diameter ten meters. Time interval, 15 minutes ago until current. Overlay and sync playback with last footage on camera 438, begin."
She waited less than a second for the graph to appear. No Jurai power sources found.
"Kegani, fast forward until a Jurai power source occurs in this area, then track until present time, and pause."
Doing so, she drew a circle on the translucent monitor with her finger, indicating the area around the hedge where the girl with Sasami had fallen.
"Hai!" the machine replied. Barely a moment later it came back. "Cannot comply, Washuu-chan. Location of subject at time zero four seconds ago is out of bound specified in search. Recommend long-range sensors be allocated."
Washuu had feared this. Tsunami had left the planet, and her short range tracking ability. She could possibly trace Tsunami back, but it would take some time. Instead, she thought it would be best to verify the location of Sasami and her friend.
"Rewind to first occurrence of Jurai power in time within search criteria, playback."
She watched the graph patiently. On it was a small red dot, surrounded by a rosy glow representing Sasami. Washuu had expected this. The power level was low compared to the Jurai trees, but normal for a member of Jurai royalty. Sasami's power was higher than even most royalty was, though; hers actually visible as a concentrated point on the graph rather than merely a red glow. Most non-royal Juraian people's power in would barely show on this scale. Their abilities were a mere tenth of that of a noble's… or less.
Something bothered her. While Sasami's glow could be accounted for, the pattern in which it emanated was a bit odd. It was not spherical, but seemed to intersect with another sphere less than a meter from her.
"Remove this energy source from the graph and compensate." She indicated Sasami as the focus of the energy by a touch to the screen. "Amplify other energy sources. Pause playback."
The machine replied in its normal fashion. Again, the results came to her. And again, they startled Washuu.
"That girl glows with Jurai power!" she exclaimed. "What the hell is going on here?"
She began typing quickly away at the keyboard, attempting to get a reading of the power level. The results intrigued her. The girl lying on the ground was emanating power close to 24% of that of an average normal Juraian person.
"How is that possible?" Washuu exclaimed. After a pause, she spoke again to the machine. "Kegani, restore last energy source removed, return power level representation to normal level, resume playback."
She watched silently for a moment. In a few moments Sasami's small point of light exploded into what seemed a blazing inferno of power. It emanated outward, covering the virtually imperceptible glow of the other girl. The glow then lowered some, and Washuu could now see Tsunami standing there.
She waited patiently, absent-mindedly using a keyboard command to lower the intensity of the power representation, knowing that the three boys would appear soon. She very much wanted to know if they had readings of Juraian power, and really wouldn't be able to tell very well with Tsunami's overpowering aura if she didn't do so.
The leader boy and both of his subordinates showed readings similar to that of Sasami's friend. The leader boy and the one named Shohei were very close, both almost exactly 18%. The last boy, Guy had a much higher reading, almost 53%. Of course, these readings were not extremely accurate because of Tsunami's power, and the fact that these were readings extrapolated from data in her censors. Jurai power had a tendency to bolster itself when more of it was around. Such was the same with Jurai trees.
Washuu watched the confrontation happen again. The boys stood off in a triangle formation, the two subordinates flanking their leader behind and to either side. She waited patiently, watching and remembering the situation. It had been the third boy, Guy, who had stepped forward, right? Washuu watched, waiting for the boy to step forward, wanting to see the exchange.
When it happened, Washuu was once again shocked. Before the boy stepped forward, his readings were normal. As he stepped forward, his readings began to increase rapidly, and almost an instant later, the power of his aura almost equal to Tsunami's.
Washuu barely had time to analyze the situation, when Tsunami's power reading intensified three to four fold; almost off the chart. Her aura expanded in three dimensions at once; it was so powerful as so Washuu could no longer see the woman beneath. It cut through the other aura like it wasn't there, striking the boy. Once on the ground, the boy's power level returned to the faint red glow, and Tsunami's power level returned to what it had been before.
The leader boy charged in a few moments later. This time, Tsunami's power level did not increase, and there was only a slight flicker as the boy literally bounced off Tsunami's aura, and flew off screen. Washuu continued to watch Tsunami as the replay continued. After the boys turned away from her, she leaned over to pick up the unconscious girl, carrying her over her shoulder. Again, a pillar of water appeared, the glow once again intense. Then they were gone.
"Kegani, pause playback!" Washuu said quickly, remembering her objective in viewing this: location of Sasami and the other girl.
'Damn' she thought. Then to the machine, "Rewind 3 seconds, and track prominent energy source on monitor 34. Trace until present time. No graphical representation."
She waited as her machine did the calculations.
"Describe path of last trace. Description level 5."
"Path occurs as a perfect inverse parabolic path, reaching a height of .515 kilometers at peak at velocity approximately half the speed of light, and touching down at a space 1.03 kilometers from position at commence of search. The energy source then is stationary for 28.83 seconds, and then is out of range."
"Adjust optical sensors to position where energy source in last trace was stationary."
"Hai!" Kegani replied, "Optical sensors already on target."
"Eh?" she said. "Why would they be…"
She slapped her head in realization. The search had already come back with results, and was focused on the spot while she had been busy doing the other trace.
"Display on monitor."
On the screen Washuu could see a narrow alleyway. Aside from a garbage can and some leaves, it was very empty alleyway. Washuu was puzzled for a moment, putting her hand to her chin. Then, understanding, she snapped her fingers.
"Kegani, repeat last visual search with on screen as starting coordinates."
A moment later, Washuu saw what she wanted to see, but far from what she expected. Sasami and Misao walked side by side, their uniforms clean, smiling and chatting with each other, walking down the street.
Exactly as they had before the encounter.
"Oneesan was so embarrassed!" Sasami exclaimed, giggling. Misao smiled, a giggle escaping as well.
The two came to a corner, and turned it, Misao indicating the way they should go. Sasami continued talking until they had walked another block, this time going straight. When they had walked another block down, Misao stopped walking. Sasami stopped with her, continuing to talk until she finished.
"Ryoko-oneesan got really angry after that!" she finished. They laughed again, Sasami stopping first as she looked around.
"You live here?" she asked.
"Mmm…" Misao answered, meekly.
"Wow! It's so big!" Sasami exclaimed, looking up. The house was a mansion, three stories tall with an enclosing brick privacy fence that extended around the entire block. The only break in the fence was in the form of the iron gate, which Sasami now peered at the estate through. Sasami wasn't so impressed by the dimensions itself, being royalty, and living in estates many, many times the size of this. She was more impressed by the size ratio of this house compared to others she had seen. Misao's family must be very wealthy, Sasami realized.
"Will you come in?" Misao asked her.
Sasami nodded. Misao reached into her pocket and produced a small black key chain, she pressed a button on it, and the gates began to slide open with a rolling sound. She smiled at Sasami and walked forward, towards the mansion.
When they got to the house, Sasami had expected to meet Misao's parents, or siblings. Misao had changed the subject earlier when Sasami had asked her about her family. Sasami had not really thought about it at the time, but now the conditions inside the house brought that conversation back to mind.
The entryway was large, having a large rug where you were expected to remove your shoes. Straight ahead there was a large staircase, flanked on the left by a long hallway, several doors on either side. The house was completely silent. There were no shoes by the doorway; no one else appeared to be home.
Misao removed her shoes and Sasami followed.
"Shall we go up to my room?" Misao asked. Sasami nodded.
The two walked up the staircase, and turned down a long hallway. When they reached the end, Misao turned to the right, opening a door leading into a medium-sized room.
"Please come in." Misao asked plainly. Sasami walked in, accepting the invitation. Once in, she looked around in awe. The room was filled with cats. Not living ones, but every other kind imaginable. Stuffed cats and small porcelain figurines were scattered about the room in every section. Looking to the side to a western-style bed, Sasami saw the bedcovers were adorned with kittens. Even a feline-shaped pillow graced the spread.
"Misao-chan, your room is so cute!" she said, continuing to look from side to side, seeing something new every time. "You like cats, don't you?"
"Yes." she said, but paused for a moment. "It's strange, though…"
"What?" Sasami asked.
"I don't really know why, but I like them… and I'm afraid of them too."
"You're afraid of them?" Sasami asked, puzzled. "Why?"
"I don't know…" she stopped. "It's just that cats are always so confident."
"What do you mean?" the girl asked, taking a seat on the floor.
She motioned for Misao to sit also.
"Well… they always know what's going on around them. Even when they're sleeping."
Sasami smiled, knowing the animal she was talking about from this world's television broadcasting. It was very similar to another animal on Jurai, called a kura.
"Yeah, I know what you mean… but then why do you keep them in your room? If they scare you, I mean."
"I don't know. I feel safe with them around." Misao continued.
"Safe?" Sasami asked, confused. "I thought you just said…"
Misao frowned and looked downward. After a moment she continued.
"I don't understand it either. For some reason, I feel safe from them here. It's like I'm a mouse inside a small hole. They can't reach me, because they're too big, and I'm too small and…" she stopped and closed her eyes, exhaling. "Is it strange?"
Sasami didn't know what to make of what her new friend was saying, but knew she had to immediately answer or risk disturbing her.
"No, not at all." Sasami said cheerfully, beaming at her.
"I…, really?" she asked, hopefully.
"Not at all. We all have our little quirks, Misao. We all do things other people would think strange." Sasami said, something disturbing bugging the back of her mind. Reflexively, she pushed it down, maintaining her smiling visage.
Misao hesitantly smiled back. Sasami continued smiling, reassuring her. She absent-mindedly rubbed her forehead with her index finger. After a long moment, Misao broke eye contact and looked down again, her smile still present.
"Sasami-chan is the first person I've ever shown my room." She said, quietly.
"Really? I think it's really cute!" she said, looking around for effect.
"Th… thank you…" she said. Then, thinking for a moment. "Would you like to go swimming?"
"Swimming? Where would we go?" Sasami asked, not knowing of any place to swim for kilometers.
"Downstairs, there's a pool…" she continued.
"Downstairs?" Sasami asked, never having guessed. Her family was rich indeed! "But… I don't have a swimsuit."
"Don't worry, I have a bunch that I've never used, Sasami-chan could use one."
"That would be great…" she said, pausing. "Misao, why did you ask that all of a sudden? Swimming, I mean."
"I just thought… I just thought that it would be something that Sasami-chan would enjoy… if not-"
Sasami cut her off. "No, I'd enjoy it very much, it was just how you asked."
"Oh." Misao replied. "I'm sorry, I'm not good at these things, and…"
"Don't worry about it! I'd love to go swimming," she said, interrupting once more. "But, before we do, may I use your phone?"
"Masaki residence, This is Washuu-chan!"
"Umm, hello Washuu-chan, this is Sasami."
"Sasami! I thought you would be home by now."
"Ummm, actually I was calling to ask if I can stay over at a friend's house for a while."
"Oh, I'm sure no one would have a problem with that. Everything going alright?"
"That's good, just be sure you're home before too late!"
"Yep, I will!"
Washuu hung up the phone slowly.
'They have no memory of what happened,' she thought. 'How?'
The answer was obvious: Tsunami had wiped their short-term memories. It was the only possible explanation.
Washuu watched the two girls as they continued down the stairs of the house and through the corridors using the visual sensors available on the audio-tracking device. The picture was actually much clearer than it had been from the primitive satellite. Washuu wondered idly why she hadn't thought to use them earlier.
Washuu continued watching the girls for some time, trying to get some clue on what had just happened. As the time wore on, Washuu realized there was no more information she could get from the girls right now. She took a deep breath and stretched her arms. She was feeling quite exhausted by the emotional roller coaster the events had put her through. There were so many questions opened up, and they disturbed her every moment she thought about them. She sighed deeply, knowing she would not sleep much tonight. There was really nothing she could do about it. It was in her nature. She would have to find the answers.
Tenchi sat silently at the dinner table, staring downward. It had been almost an hour since he had finished the meal, and still no sign of Sasami. After he had finished his cooking and completed the cleanup, he had waited patiently, knowing she would walk through the door, or emerge from Washuu's laboratory soon. It never happened.
Tenchi was glad at first. He had simply placed the unserved meal into a small box Washuu had produced for Sasami a while back. Tenchi didn't know exactly how it worked- Washuu had said something about a stasis effect- but the machine kept warm food warm and just as good as it was when you put it in. Then, he reflected on what he was going to say.
The long minutes of word searching stretched into three-quarters of an hour before Tenchi next realized the time. When he did, he was disturbed. There was no doubt in his mind Sasami should have arrived by now. The reasons she was not present zipped back and forth in his head. Was she forced to stay late at school? Did Washuu still have her? Was she avoiding coming home?
The last one scared Tenchi the most. Sasami was very young, only eight physically. If she was avoiding coming home, because of him… Tenchi suddenly felt the urge to run out and search for her himself. He caught himself almost as he stood up and so doing sat himself back down, realizing there was no point. He had no idea where she would be.
Pushing this idea out of his mind for a moment, he considered other options. If she were forced to stay late at school, she would be home soon. The buses ran very late in this part of town, and he had no doubt in her ability to travel them. The last option was that Washuu had kept Sasami for some reason.
This was possible also, but posed no more threat. He had not heard Sasami enter the house, but then Washuu would have probably intercepted her outside, anyway.
He sighed, resting his temple in one hand. It was frustrating, but he would have to endure it. He was to blame, after all.
Sasami and Misao stayed together for almost two hours, first swimming in the pool, and then going upstairs to a large room to watch television. The screen was large by earth standards, theater style, almost two meters wide and half that high. They watched two shows; the first one was a rather flashy shonen program. It had lots of fighting with energy balls in it, of which Sasami enjoyed some, but there was very little substance. After it was over, another show came on, this one about a girl who lived a normal life in Japan, until she was transported to another world. It wasn't the first episode in the series, so neither fully understood what was going on, but the show had an excellent villain, and the plot seemed very well done. Sasami didn't catch the series title, but noted that the main character's last name meant 'courage.'
After that, it was getting late. It was almost eight o'clock, and Sasami realized she would have to leave soon. Finally bidding Misao farewell, she left to catch the bus for home.
Once on board the bus, Sasami's mood began to darken. The joy she had felt with Misao was now giving way to the fear she had of facing Tenchi-niichan again. She knew he was angry, and she knew she was to blame. She had to come up with some way to make him forgive her. The bus passed several shops advertising Valentine's day candy and flowers. Sasami looked on, reminded again of what day it was. Looking downward, she reached a hand into the book bag she had and pulled out a small package. It was a square box, bright green. Criss-crossing it was a purple ribbon and a matching bow.
"Sasami, you're such an idiot." she said. "You're supposed to give this to the person you like, and…"
Tenchi-niichan was angry with her. All of a sudden the feeling was so bad she wanted to cry. All she wanted was him to like her again! Her stomach hurt as the muscles tightened in her abdomen, the fear that Tenchi would reject her getting to her on a physical level. On top of that, Sasami realized she was hungry. She hadn't eaten lunch due to the events that had transpired, and she had only grabbed a single Kanomipu before running off to school in the morning. Well, she'd have to go home and get some dinner going.
Sasami's mind froze for a moment as several seconds ticked by.
"Dinner…" she whispered. It was her responsibility to make dinner. She had forgotten the entire time. Normally, she made dinner after she got home from school, as the family preferred to eat early. She glanced out of the window where the sun was in near set, and then realized how late she was. Only one thought echoed through her mind: she had messed up again.
Sasami walked up to the door with a great deal of trepidation. She had no idea where the family was, or if they were angry. After a moment of gaining courage, she put her hand on the doorknob and slowly pulled it open, expecting anything from 'okaeri nasai' to the family riding on the back of Washuu's pet fish, ready to eat her.
As the door swung open, Sasami found none of these things. In fact, she found just that: nothing. She could see no one in the entryway, and upon inspecting further, no one was present in the family room, either.
She cautiously took off her shoes, leaving them in the entryway. Then made her way across the main room to the kitchen. Once there, she took another breath and looked inside. She wondered idly if anyone was eating in the room; a pang of guilt coming to her as the thought occurred. Peeking inside, she saw the one person she feared most to encounter: Tenchi.
She gulped and she felt herself become tense, expecting him to be angry. It faded some when she realized he was not about to yell at her. In fact, he didn't even know she was there.
Tenchi sat motionless at the table. His right arm sat upright, supporting his head at the temple, fingers extending into his hair. Sasami could hear him breathing, and his nostrils flared very slightly with the motion. She stared at him for a long moment, then sat down at the table opposite him. Silently, she put her books down next to her and looked down at the table, listening to him breathe. Tenchi dreamed on, oblivious.
Pitch-blackness. Void. Tenchi floated in a sea of perpetual darkness. He looked around frantically for a moment, attempting to find something… anything. His search ended without fruition, nothing could be found in the void. He looked down, trying even to see himself, but found he could not, so deep was the barrier. For a brief instant, Tenchi thought he might be blind. The thought terrified him and he began to panic, but was interrupted by a glow emanating from behind him. He turned around. The lady Funaho looked at him from a seated position. She was dressed in her formal Juraian attire, her long dark braids falling in front of her shoulders, ending just above her bosom. Behind her, a white glow that irritated his eyes peeked out from around her form. The face she made at him was neutral, but her eyes hinted at anger.
"Why did you not protect our daughter?" she asked, formally, in an even tone.
Tenchi opened his mouth, about to ask a million questions relating to what she was talking about, but was cut off by another voice and glow behind him.
"You let my poor Sasami-chan get hurt! I will not forgive you for this!" the voice shouted.
Tenchi turned instantly, to see Misaki staring at him, murder in her eyes. She was also dressed in formal attire, but she leaned forward toward him, like a cat ready to pounce. Tenchi feared she would jump at him any moment. Again, Tenchi tried to ask for explanation, but as before was cut off.
"You!" came a third voice. Tenchi, startled once again, turned to his left to see the emperor of Jurai glaring at him. "You let my daughter come to harm! Look!"
The king pointed to a location behind Tenchi. When he turned to look, he saw Tsunami standing there. In her arms, she cradled a small form. Tenchi felt compelled to approach, and he walked toward her. When he reached her, Tsunami pulled back a small piece of cloth, revealing Sasami's small form.
She was unconscious, not dead. Tenchi could tell this as he watched her chest rise and fall as she breathed. She was beautiful, dressed in her formal Jurai attire, complete with flower-shaped pins for holding her long locks of hair. Her eyes were closed, and her mouth opened slightly whenever she exhaled. She did not appear to be hurt. He was about to ask what was wrong with her, when Tsunami handed the girl into his arms. Tenchi took her into his arms and looked at her.
She began to change.
At first, it was barely perceptible. Her face became a bit more gaunt, and it became longer vertically. Next, her nose extended a bit, and her facial features became sharper. During this he felt her body extend and swell some, especially in the chest. As her body became larger, it also became shapelier. Her waist became smaller around, and hips expanded. Her legs began to lose some proportion with her body, and grew longer.
It did not stop there. Her hair continued to grow longer, as her body continued to age. He watched as the little girl passed into her twenties, then thirties, and onward. It never stopped; in fact, it seemed to accelerate as she went on, passing from middle into old age. A moment later, the girl's face was wrinkled and old, but there was no end in sight. Tenchi watched in horror as Sasami's body began to rot and then turn to dust, falling from his hands, leaving only her clothing falling in his hands.
An overwhelming feeling of helplessness took him. He didn't know why, but he felt that somehow this was his fault. Something he had done, something he had said. The pain was too much; he felt the anger and fear overtake him as he reared back and screamed upward to any gods that might listen.
"Yes?" came the response.
Tenchi looked up to see Sasami staring him straight in the eyes, her own eyes wide as saucers. She was afraid. He blinked a few times, to clear his vision. As he did, his surroundings began to register to him. A small motion to the side caught his attention for a moment, but then disappeared. He shrugged mentally, continuing to look around.
He was in the kitchen. Sasami was here. She seemed frightened. It was evening, by the clock behind Sasami, and he had just woken up. He had just woken up! Suddenly, the rest of the situation came to him. He was waiting for Sasami, and she had been late returning home. He had sat at the table and waited for her, and then must have fallen asleep. Now she was here.
Tenchi struggled to say something to her. The plans he had made on how to apologize lost in the deepness of his recent slumber. He felt the shame as she stared at him, her big eyes boring into him.
Tenchi stood there, stunned. He had not spoken the words so suddenly blurted out. Looking up at the girl, he saw tears begin to flow from her eyes. She wiped them almost immediately. Before he could interject, she spoke again.
"I'm sorry I didn't get you up this morning. It was the least I should have done, after waking you up last night. Tenchi-niichan is so nice to me, and I just made you angry…"
She closed her eyes, a tear escaping her right eye as she did so.
"Sasami you idiot!" she yelled suddenly, and then began to sob uncontrollably into the table, folding her hands over her face.
Tenchi felt a dagger stab him in the heart with each whimper the girl made. She blamed herself for what had happened. His selfish anger had made her suffer this much. Gathering up his courage, he spoke.
"Sasami, I'm not angry at you," he said, gently. She peeked out from above her arms, but continued to sniffle a bit. "I was never angry at you."
"But you…" she tried to object, lifting her head in the process.
The act revealing her red eyes and tear soaked face to him. He merely shook his head.
"No. I was angry with Ryoko and Aeka. Only them." he said.
"But I didn't wake you up, and then they…" she argued, her sniffles subsiding some.
"They what? If you had woken me up earlier, something else would have happened to make me mad." Tenchi sighed. "I really wasn't angry at what happened, I was more angry at how OFTEN it happened."
Tenchi paused for a moment, shifted his arms, and continued speaking.
"Ryoko and your sister… they make me very angry sometimes, without knowing it. I like them both very much, but they are always fighting. They're always so noisy. It bothers me. Today, they came very close to hurting me badly."
"They…" she said, weakly.
"Sasami, it was NOT your fault. It's them. They forget common sense when they fight. They just don't seem to understand."
Tenchi gazed into her eyes; still glassy from the tears she had been spilling. He locked his stare with hers.
"I'm sorry, Sasami."
The setting sun cast a deep crimson glow, bathing everything with its departure, however brief. To the two girls on way home, this magnificent departure did not set melancholy mood, but merely augmented it. The dark mood had caused more than one person to lift head from reading material as they left the bus together, to watch them walk down a path into the woods as silently as they would walk to a funeral. As it was now, not a word had escaped either pair of lips in hours.
The stillness of the forest was barely disturbed by passing. They continued on, ignoring the birds and animals who watched them carefully, unsure why these two normally noisy creatures were so quiet. Were they hunting? Was it a trap? Perhaps they were merely ghosts, passing by.
After long trip, the two arrived at the house. Once it was in sight, both stopped and looked up to gaze upon it. The house was large by earth standards, two stories, with a deck on the second floor. Only one light appeared to be on; the kitchen. After a long moment, courage pressing them onward, they continued on and finally, cautiously, stepped inside. They removed shoes immediately, and looked around for any sign of life. They stood silently there for a long moment, searching for life, both in the house, and within.
They were interrupted by a male voice from the kitchen yelling for Aeka's little sister. It was immediately followed by a reply from a familiar, high-pitched female voice, but they paid this no heed. Aeka ran immediately to the source of the sound, Ryoko in tow.
"Tenchi-niichan… you're sorry?" she asked, perplexion adding to the emotions she felt.
"Yes, for making you feel sorry." he said. "I never should have been mean to you. You did nothing wrong, and I hurt you. I am very sorry." Tenchi clasped his hands and bowed his head, making the apology wholly sincere.
Sasami was shocked at the turn of events. She had expected him to be angry, and yet here he was, apologizing to her, and she was younger than he was! Tenchi had always respected Sasami, but had never treated her as a princess, only as a younger girl, as was customary on his world. His apology was genuine.
Suddenly, Sasami felt weak. A moment later, she was out of her seat and lunging at him. Sobbing, she hugged him tightly. He returned her hug. She cried for almost a minute, and then separated.
"You don't hate me?" she asked him.
"No. I like Sasami-chan very, very, very much. I could never hate you," he replied, smiling. She crinkled her face as if she was going to cry again, but caught herself.
"Do you hate Aeka-oneechan, or Ryoko-oneechan?" she asked, trying to keep a straight tone, but her voice cracking at the end of the question.
"No. I do not hate them. They made me angry, but I'm not angry anymore." he said.
"Really?" she asked.
"Re-" he began to reply.
"REALLY?" came two voices in unison from the doorway. Tenchi looked up, startled. Sasami turned her head to see Aeka and Ryoko.
A moment later, Tenchi regained his calm.
"How long have you been listening there?" he asked.
"Ummm… well…" Aeka stuttered, looking downward.
"I… er, well…" Ryoko stammered, looking down to the side.
Tenchi raised an eyebrow.
"Ummm… about the time when you… woke up, Tenchi-sama…" Aeka finally said. Ryoko nodded, not looking.
Tenchi sighed, and paused for a moment. "I forgive you," he said, looking at them, "Both of you."
"Tenchi! I am-"
"Wait." he said sternly, cutting them off. "I have something to give to Sasami-chan."
The two girls stopped on cue, not daring to disobey his order, glowing from their reprieve.
Tenchi reached over to his side to where he had placed the meal into the small box. Opening the faceplate, everyone heard the characteristic 'Whoosh!' that the machine made. Tenchi pulled out a medium-sized pot of food. He placed it down on the table, and motioned for Sasami to look.
"Wow! Sukiyaki!" she exclaimed. "But, Tenchi-niichan, how could you…"
"I'm not such a bad cook, you know Sasami-chan." he replied, smiling.
"No, that's not what I meant. I mean, it's so expensive, with the beef, and…"
"Don't worry about it, Sasami-chan. It's my treat." he said, emphasizing that he was insistent.
She paused a moment. Her wondrous expression toning down a little.
"Thank you… but…" she said, suddenly serious. Her eyes wandered to Aeka and Ryoko, who were taking on the look of children betrayed by their own mother.
Tenchi's look once again became serious.
"Well…" he said, turning to them. He appeared to think for a long moment, "I suppose so." He waited for the phrase to sink in. As their faces began to light up, he spoke again. "I made enough for everyone, after all."
Late that night, long after everyone went to bed, Sasami stared at the ceiling, thinking. Today had been long for her, and now she finally had the opportunity to rest, and yet, she didn't. Something was bothering her. She thought back to what could possibly be wrong, but could not find anything that should disturb her now. Despite the day's bad beginnings, it had turned out better than she could have hoped. She had met Misao, and Tenchi-niichan had shown her how much he cared. Sasami couldn't help but smile when she thought about Tenchi and his actions.
After the group had eaten, they had made their way into the living room to talk. Aeka as usual had been very polite, but it was surprising how well Ryoko was able to follow suit. The two formerly squabbling girls also seemed to be careful not to step on each other's toes. Even when both decided to simultaneously give Tenchi their valentine's gift, Ryoko managed to give way to Aeka, and let her present her gift first.
Tenchi, however, would have none of it. He insisted that Sasami be allowed to give hers first. At first, Sasami had wondered how he knew, but then simply let it go, his smiling face melting her will to ask any questions.
The rest of the night had been good, with everyone describing their day to the group. Sasami told them about Misao, but left out the part about the bullies. Instead, she told them about her home, and how beautiful she thought it was. Aeka and Ryoko told about how, after school, they had went to an ice cream parlor, at the insistence of some friends. They said that the girls would not let them go, telling the two that they had some cheering up to do. Tenchi laughed, replying that they had made some good friends. The stories continued for some time afterwards, everyone laughing and participating joyously.
Sasami finally gave up her inner search. She had to sleep, and knew it. Her studies had suffered a bit today, she would have to be alert tomorrow in class or she could fall behind. She sighed, covering her mouth with her hand, and then rubbing her forehead, scratching a spot in the center where it itched slightly. She glanced to the side, to where Aeka had slept for some time, and then reset her stare. Then, finally, closed her eyes to the world.
To be continued.
Japanese Vocabulary Lesson:
Things heard following people's names
-chan: Affectionate ending, used for children, pets, and all things cute
My proofreaders are (in no particular order):
- David Arjuna Stevens
Author's Notes: Sorry about the delay, but I had quite a few things to do. I was, and am still preparing for my departure to Japan as an exchange student. I will be leaving the country as of 13 days after I write this. This entails things such as finishing my painting (paint won't be good when I return, right?), finishing FF8 (I have to leave in the states), studying (I need to speak Japanese, right?), and cleaning my room (impossible task).
Anyway, getting down to business. This part will, unfortunately probably be the last part for quite a while. I will be spending the next couple of months doing nothing but learning Japanese and attempting to survive when I can't comprehend enough kanji to read cooking instructions.
Once again, I must thank my pre-readers for all of their love and support. After a swift kick in the butt, they delivered for me this time in full force. I have so many plans in my head for this series, but without time to implement, they will be for naught. I'm sorry if this fate comes about; it's really not what I wish. And so, I begin my hiatus.
Remember: it will be difficult to start again after a long break, so if you like it, tell me! I'm a huge sucker for praise, however fake it is, and it will greatly increase the chances of me continuing to write afterward.
Oh, by the way, if anyone cares:
Departure Date: 10/03/1999
Nall-ohki (Tyson Roberts)
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