Chapter Seven

She waited at the top of the stairs her hands placed over her heart feeling it thump madly against her chest. What was the cause of this? Who was the cause of her own heart threatening to burst out of her own ribcage?

Her answer came when she heard the sound of dry leaves crushing underfoot of an approaching figure. Her eyes slowly drifted up from his well toned body her fingers itched to caress up to his entrancing eyes.

His eyes smiled at her as he spoke her name and pulled her to him in a comforting and loving embrace, the kind she longed for, the kind only he seemed able to give.

Sighing into his chest she gathered the strength to say what she had been longing to say to him for so long. "I missed you, more then you can ever dream of. I didn't know then what I know now, and that's the fact that you are my world and when I left. Ever since the day I left you I have been feeling so broken and lifeless."


"'Broken and lifeless'? What the hell?" Ryoko shouted in disgust throwing the book behind her. "They always ruin a good story with that overboard mushy stuff! Who actually talks like that?" She asked no one in particular since in truth she was by herself sitting in the branch of a tree. Huffing in annoyance she snatched her bottle of sake and poured a generous amount of the room temperature liquid into her ochoko.

Her ears twitched as they caught the sound of footfalls muted slightly by the moist night dampened air, someone was walking by the tree in which she sat. Her amber eyes watched carefully as she continued to drink, her curiosity as to who would be outside (besides her of course) rather then cozy and comfortable indoors watching television with the others if not in bed.

Her answer came when the figure's foot knocked into the discarded book, "What's this?" The young masculine voice questioned aloud.

Ryoko instantly knew that it was Ibara. In his time with them Ryoko had come to notice that Ibara had one tiny habit, he often spoke his inner thoughts out loud. Years spent mostly in solitude; even with the rare visits he had he had developed the habit of talking aloud from time to time.

Even she had to admit it was both cute and a little endearing. He would say something he would be thinking out loud then upon realizing that he had he'd stammer and blush before apologizing for his absentmindedness.

Ibara picked up the fallen book and looked onto the back to read the description on the back before looking around for the one who could have dropped it. His eyes finally drifted upwards to spy Ryoko who was looking down at him. "Is this yours?" He asked waving the book in his hand.

"No, something I borrowed from the Princess's little book stash. I should have known it was a waste of time if she would read it." She stated taking another drink of her sake.

With a simple graceful leap he landed on the branch next to her, "Does your mother know that you are drinking young lady?" He teased lightly taking a seat beside her.

"Very funny, Ibara." Ryoko grumbled giving him a sidelong glare, the same she had given Washu many of times ever since she persisted upon being called Lil' Washu and furthermore insisting on reminding Ryoko ever so often that she was her daughter.

"Despite her telling me about how it all happened I'm still a little surprised that the two of you are mother and daughter." He said looking out into the starry sky trying to familiarize himself with the new constellations.

Ryoko sighed as passed a second ochoko filled with sake to him, where she had gotten it Ibara did not know and was pretty sure it was best to not question it as he had learned not to question a few things in the Masaki household.

"It's funny really. Mom, she sometimes wants to be my mother and tries to act like it but with her it's like playing house. After she gets bored she'll just stop playing then start again when she feels like it." Ryoko sighed before taking another sip. She wasn't about to admit that she had a reasonable sense of fear for the child-bodied scientist, as did anyone else who knew or was on the receiving end of one of her experiments.

"But at least you get to see her." He stated.

Ryoko froze in mid-sip, from the way he had said it she knew it was one of the statements he had meant to keep as an inner thought. She didn't really know how the system of guarding the Nameless Tree worked, only that it was assigned a guardian, a task that was passed down from father to the eldest son, or the next oldest male relative, as Ibara had explained to Katsuhito. As she remembered Ibara was young, a bit too young to be there, she recalled over hearing him state how his father had been killed in the line of duty luring the treasure seekers away from the tree. Ryoko could not imagine how the young boy must have felt knowing that it was his time to leave his home and all that he knew to live a hermit like life to protect the tree.

Suddenly she felt a little more grateful to have Washu go about demanding to be called mom.

They settled into a slightly tensed silence, staring up into the stars a part of both of them longing to be out amongst them for a better look. Sipping the warm sake the tense air about them faded and they found themselves more comfortable and at ease as they did that day in space returning to the Earth.

By the time the bottle was empty the two sat side by side no longer silent but talking about the stars in the sky to the fish in the sea, favorite foods, and anything else that could come to mind.

"-and then as she walked up I pulled her towel away from her. HA-HA! I've never seen anyone turn so red in my life!" Ryoko crowed in laughter as she went through a list of the pranks she had pulled on Ayeka.

Ibara smiled, he liked the way that she laughed, loud and uninhibited, a sound that carried out and could fill a room with her presents. He had become use to the Jurain way, a soft chuckle or a girlish lady-like giggle with the hand drawn up to cover the mouth and the pretty smile that came with it.

In time her laughter stopped leaving it to fade echoing into the night. She still smiled wiping her eye of her tears before sitting up straight again. "Ibara, I've been wondering, since you're all healed and all aren't you going to be returning home?"

Ibara paused, it took him a moment to think of what she meant by home. At first that deserted planet came to mind, and then there within the Masaki home, but then he realized she meant far away from there back on Jurai.

He chuckled; it was a soft and smooth sound that rumbled pleasantly from his throat. "Ryoko, Jurai isn't my home. Yes my clan is from Jurai, and yes without the tree to protect any longer they have all returned, but it is not my home. I was not born on Jurai and really have only heard glorified stories about it, but I don't want to go there."

Ryoko gave him a questioning glance before finally voicing her curiosity herself. "Why not?"

He chuckled again looking towards her making her face tinge a pretty color of rose pink. "I thought the reason was obvious."

It happened all too quickly but at the same time all so slowly, suddenly his fingers through rough from work but soft to the touch were holding her chin, suddenly his hands were guiding her, suddenly he was leaning forwards.

When Ryoko's mind, which was so use to being the one to incite the action rather than be the one to receive it, finally processed what had happened their lips were locked in a rather innocent and chaste kiss one would have on first dates.

Cheeks flaring in slight embarrassment Ryoko pulled away, her mind was in a rush of what all had happened in connection to what he had said; he was staying on Earth because she was on Earth. He stayed because of her.

"Ibara, you barely know me." She stated trying to keep from thinking how soft his lips felt against hers.

"Oh?"

She sunk into a silent type of brooding, she didn't want to speak of her past life, and she didn't even want to remember some parts of it, especially the parts that she found herself enjoying.

Ibara took a look at her face and knew that she didn't want to speak on the subject. "Thank you for the sake." Leaning forwards he gave her cheek a small peck before leaping down onto the ground below. "I waited over 800 years Ryoko, I can wait longer." He stated before walking away.

Ryoko's eyes trailed after him, watching his every step. Her heart was still racing, beating strongly in a manner she knew, a manner that confused her. It was beating the same way it had those many years ago when she had seen him ago. 'Don't do this again, Ryoko, you remember last time, it's all because he looks like Tenchi. We've all already been through this, I loved Tenchi first.' She reprimanded her heart.

Suddenly there was a loud thunderous roar filling the air with its deafening sound. "What in the hell?" Ryoko demanded as everyone rushed out of the house and looked skyward.

"Testing testing…Like is this thing on? It is? Oh…Heh heh heh, I've finally found you Ryoko!" A voice called out as the roaring noise began to die down and a large ship appeared before their eyes hovering several feet above the Masaki house.

"It can't be." Ryoko groaned slapping her hand to her forehead.

Ibara, standing to her right, gave a deep sigh his shoulders dropping, "It is."

Washu, standing beside him sweat dropped, "He can't be that stupid."

Suddenly a tall somewhat muscular figure dressed in what looked a long black sleeveless kosode that hug his narrow hips snugly and on his head a home made kabuto with a feather sticking up proudly on the front. His lips painting in dark red near black lipstick stretched into a large menacing smile as he peered down onto them all with his right eye covered with an eye patch.

"You're lucky Ryoko I, Lord Yakata, have been waiting to get my revenge on you."

"He is." Ryoko groaned.

TBC….

I apologize for my seriously long delay in updating, but I had gone so long without inspiration and for a while I had to focus on other things. Not to mention I had long ago forgotten where I was going with this story. But now I am a little better and more organized and have found a new route to go for the time being.

It's a bit funny I look back and reread all of the things that I have written in the past and see just how much I have improved. I am grateful for that and for all of you who have given me encouraging words and suggestions to come this far. Thank you one and all.