Disclaimer: Don't sue me. I don't own any of the following characters. This story may be redone someday, I am not sure. I wrote it just after my own grandmother passed away.

Late Autumn in the mid-afternoon

On a side path to the Masaki shrine:

Tenchi walked along in the sun, enjoying the autumn weather. The cool wind blew the freshly fallen leaves across the path he walked. In his hand was a bucket of water, with cleaning solution in it. As he did every few days. It was time to clean the tombstones. However today felt different to him, something was in the air, something that was trying to make him remember. But what...?

"Why does today seem so familiar to me?" He asked himself as he looked up into the overcast sky. It made his heart sink, it was as if he had lost something, something very important to him, and he had forgotten. "I finished all my other chores, and I don't think I promised to help any of the girls with anything..." Tenchi shook his head, whatever it was, he realized it was not something recent, instead what was bothering him was rooted deep in his past. This memory felt like something he had wanted to forget, to escape, but now it was demanding his attention. Tenchi reached the first tombstone, as he looked at it he remembered. The tombstone was of his grandmother.

Tenchi knelt beside the grave preparing to clean it, as he did everyday. "It was on a day, just like today, that she died." Tears welled in his eyes, as he remembered that horrible day. There had been a cool breeze, which scattered the leaves gently around the yard, and the sky had been overcast as if constantly threatening to rain. "Grandma...I'm so sorry. I never did pay my respects to you properly. I guess...I guess I just never wanted to accept you were gone. I always thought that if I didn't come and talk to you, if I just cleaned the tombstone, and acted as if I didn't know whose it was, that you would come back to me. Oh grandma..." Tenchi covered his face with his hands, hiding his eyes as he tried to hold back his tears.

High Above:

Ryoko patrolled the sky, wearing her seductive green and pink outfit [As seen in OVA Ep. 7], wondering where Tenchi had went. "I made a promise when I got up this morning," she told herself, "that Tenchi would be mine by the end of the day." Of course truth be told, Ryoko made this promise every morning, which to be more accurate, was actually early afternoon, not morning. It was always her goal to make Tenchi hers and one day, she was sure, he would be.

Ryoko flew over toward the shrine, "Ah ha!" she shouted. "There he is! But what is he doing?" Ryoko looked down at the young man, he appeared to be about to clean the tombstones, which was not odd, but he had stopped. Ryoko vanished, only to reappear behind Tenchi a few moment later.

"Tenchi!" she said melodiously. "What are you doing?" Ryoko leaned toward him smiling mischievously.

"Ryoko..." Tenchi muttered his voice sounding meek and helpless, as he peered from his hands at the space pirate. "Ryoko... please...go away. I need to be alone right now..."

Ryoko was shocked, had she done something wrong? She looked over Tenchi at the tombstone he knelt before. "So that's it," Ryoko thought, taking a deep breath. "It was a day just like this..."

Ryoko's mind soared back several years, to an Autumn day when a young boy, who had just lost his own grandmother, had ran to her cave. The young boy had fallen before the cave, weeping from the horrible pain of losing someone he loved. There was a woman at the cave, who wanted nothing more than to comfort the troubled youth, but she couldn't. She was only a spirit, her body lay imprisoned deep inside the cave. The young child could not see or hear her, but she could see and hear him laying there in such pain. As he lay there crying she stroked his hair, her hand passed through his head. Being a ghost like spirit, she couldn't even touch the young boy.

"Tenchi..." Ryoko thought sadly looking at him hunched down trembling, his back still to her. He seemed to have lost the usual strength he projected. "I wasn't able to be there for you then. I refuse to leave you now."

"Why..Why is she still here? How much clearer do I have to make it?!" Tenchi lashed at Ryoko mentally, he was embarrassed to have her see him like this. Just as he was about to try and drive her away once more, he felt a hand on his shoulder. A gentle touch which seemed to lend him strength. Slowly he turned around, still on his knees. Ryoko was kneeling in front of him, staring at him with compassionate eyes. As he looked at her, Tenchi lost whatever control of himself he had left. He fell into Ryoko, wrapping his arms around her, crying into her shoulder. Although he might have been embarrassed about doing it later, for now having someone there was more important to him than anything else.

Ryoko held Tenchi to her, gently stroking his back with one hand, while another held his head to her shoulder. It hurt Ryoko deeply, more than any pain she had ever felt before, to see Tenchi acting like this, to see him in such torment, and she would do anything to help him. He continued to weep until he was utterly exhausted, and his young body couldn't continue. Tenchi still hurt, but having someone there, someone who he could share his pain with was definitely helping. For a long time, what felt to be almost and hour, Tenchi held onto Ryoko as if she was the only thing keeping him anchored on the ground.

"I miss her so much." He said with a raspy voice, "and the pain...it hurts so much, to know that I'll never see her again."

"You''ll see her again Tenchi," Ryoko said trying to sound soothing. "Not in this life time, but in the next." If Tenchi had heard her, he didn't show it in anyway. The young man, who she loved so dearly, continue to hang on her, his tears soaking her outfit thoroughly.

After a while Tenchi brought his head out of Ryoko's shoulder, sniffling and taking long cleansing breaths before he spoke. "Thank you Ryoko. It's been a long time since I remembered grandma. I'm sorry to have yelled like that..." Ryoko put a finger to his lips.

"There's no need to explain," she told him. Ryoko stared over his head, looking into the distant horizon. "I remember watching you and your grandmother, when I was trapped in that cave. She was a wonderful woman." Slowly Tenchi broke his hold on Ryoko, stepping back rubbing his eyes.

Tenchi took a breath to steady himself, "I'm going home, to rest for a while. Thank you Ryoko..." he said picking up the bucket of soap water. "For everything, but most of all thank you for being you." Tenchi started to walk toward the house. Ryoko walked quickly to be beside him.

"What do you mean, for being me?" She asked.

"Well," Tenchi cleared his throat, his voice still sounded as if it wasn't up to talking yet, "anyone else would have left when I told them to leave me alone, but you're too stubborn to listen to anyone. In the end what I needed was someone to be with me, to help me with the pain I was in. Ayeka, Sasami, Kiyone, Mihoshi, Washu, Grandpa, and even dad, would have simply left, thinking I just needed some time alone. I guess that's why I had these feelings came rushing back to me now. All these years..." Tenchi stared up into the Autumn sky feeling a painful tug on his heart. "All this time, I tried to cope with the pain all alone, just like dad and grandpa did when my mom, and grandmother died. I wanted to be strong like them, so I pushed the pain deep down inside me, hoping it would go away."

"You can't hide your problems, no matter how deep down you hide them Tenchi," Ryoko said. Then with a weak laugh she continued, "I'm living proof of that." Tenchi smiled weakly, his eyes were still red from crying.

Ryoko looked down the path, "just remember Tenchi, you'll never be alone. You always will have me. My shoulder will always be here if you need it."

The two continued to walk down the path a little ways further, in silence.

"When I was little," Tenchi began his voice still sounding shaky, "I used to go to the cave you were held in. It might have been because I was told not to, but for some reason I always felt that something good, something special, would come if I kept going there. When my grandmother died, I used to go there on days like this because I always felt better when I was there. I always wondered why." Tenchi stopped talking, and they walked a little while further before he finished his thoughts. "Now I no longer have to go to that cave, because I have a friend like you Ryoko." Tenchi stopped abruptly, Ryoko did the same. Tenchi wrapped his arms around her neck, hugging her. "Thank you..." this time, his thanks sounded more passionate, more from the heart. Ryoko's face blushed slightly. Tenchi sighed, taking a deep soothing breath. "Ryoko, if you don't mind, I'd like to walk the rest of the way home alone. " he noticed she was about to say something, but he held up his hand to stop her. "It's alright. I'm feeling a lot better now. I just want to clear my thoughts, before I get home."

"Alright..." Ryoko said skeptically, "there is something I want to take care of before I go home anyway...If you need anything Tenchi, and I mean ANYTHING, just say me name, and I'll be there before you know it. Oh, and if you can't sleep, call me. I'm sure I can get you wore out somehow." Ryoko giggled mischievously.

"Ryoko..." Tenchi said dryly, realizing she wasn't actually trying to seduce him, but rather that she was trying to get him thinking about something else.

"Remember Tenchi darling, I'm always available for you," once again her tone was slightly seductive, hiding her true meaning, after saying that Ryoko disappeared.

"I know," Tenchi replied with a smile. "That's what I love about you." Tenchi turned making his way home. Finally after so many years, he had confronted his past. There was still a long painful road ahead of him, but this was a start.

Back at the tombstone:

Ryoko stood before Tenchi's grandmother's tombstone. "Hello there," she said taking a seat beside the grave feeling a little awkward talking to someone who was long dead. "I know you don't know me, or if you do, you don't think much of me. My name is Ryoko, the demon imprisoned in the cave near the Masaki shrine," Ryoko voice tensed as she called herself a demon, "and I just wanted to let you know that I have known you a long time, since you and Yosho got married. But like Tenchi, I never got to say good bye to you properly. Of course to begin with I never really liked you, I mean you were married to the man who imprisoned me. However once I saw Tenchi..., well all that changed."

Ryoko wrapped her arms around her knees. "You raised a terrific grandson. Tenchi is the nicest, most compassionate, and handsome man I have ever met. He makes everyday for everyone who knows him special. You may not know this, but like yourself I have been watching Tenchi his whole life, ever since he was a tiny baby." Ryoko paused, remembering what Tenchi looked like when he was that young.

"The reason I'm here is I wanted to thank you. Without your love, Tenchi wouldn't have been the man he is today. I never would have been set free of that Damn cave!" Ryoko stopped realizing her crude language. "Pardon e' moi," she muttered. "I just wanted you to know, that I promise to do everything in my power to make sure Tenchi leads a happy life. Of course, I would like it to be me who shares that perfect life with him, but even if I'm not...," Ryoko trailed off a tear rolled down her cheek, "Well then so be it..." Ryoko quickly stated, standing up as she wiped the tear away. "Good-bye Mrs Katsuhito, and thank you for your wonderful grandson." Ryoko disappeared, teleporting herself back to the Masaki house.

Yosho nodded his approval. Although he was not fond of eaves dropping, he had been walking by, and noticed Ryoko sitting by his wife' grave. So he listened in, no harm was done by merely listening. He made his way back to the shrine. He looked back in the direction of the house, his grandson was very lucky to have so many beautiful women who cared for him so much. As he approached the shrine, he saw someone sitting on the steps. It was Noboyuki.

"Hello Noboyuki," Yosho cried, "what are you doing here?" Noboyuki stood up, in his hand was a bottle, a bottle of wine to be exact.

Noboyuki stood, clearing his throat, both men knew why he was there. "I figured you could use some company. Maybe we should call Tenchi, it's been a long time..."

Yosho shook his head, dismissing the idea, "No, Tenchi has Ryoko now." A slight smile came over his face as he say beside his son in law.

"Oh, so he has finally decided, eh?" Noboyuki said pouring them both a glass. "Well, I suppose it is about time, and Ryoko is quite beautiful..."

"Noboyuki..." Yosho said looking at him from the corners of his eyes, "I said he has Ryoko to talk to, not that he has selected a wife." Each man took a sip of their wine, staring upwards at the cloudy sky, for nearly twenty minutes neither man said anything. The silence between them spoke volumes, each understood the other so well, that words were not needed.

"She was a good woman," Noboyuki finally said before draining his glass. "I will always miss her."

Yosho muttered his agreement, setting down his glass. "Thank you for the wine Noboyuki, now if you'll excuse me..." Yosho stood up slowly. "I have some things I need to take care of." Noboyuki nodded, collecting the things he had brought with him. He understood what Yosho was actually telling him. As he always did, Yosho would be burning some incense, his wife's favorite kind, at her grave, but it was something he preferred to do alone.

"Well then," Noboyuki said as he prepared to leave, "I guess I'll see you at dinner then..." Noboyuki headed home, as he did he looked at the grey sky. He smiled.

"I'm glad Tenchi has someone he can talk to," he told the sky, "I always tried to be there for him, but I knew I could never take his mother's, or grandmother's, place. Truly Ryoko, and all the other girls, are a blessing to our home. Without friends like them, I am sure Tenchi wouldn't have been able to make it through tough times like these.

At the house:

Tenchi arrived at the house, his eyes no longer red, and his breathing was steady. Ayeka met him at the door. "Hello lord Tench, is something wrong?" Ayeka asked noticing Tenchi seemed to be slouching as he walked.

"Ayeka, get the others together, there is something I want to tell you all about, someone I should have told you all about a long time ago" Tenchi instructed her.

A short time later

Ayeka had found all the girls, except Ryoko, and gathered them together. "I had Ayeka get you all together, because I wanted to tell you about someone special to me, about my grandmother. It was on a day like today, when she died..." Tenchi told the girls all about his grandmother, and how he had loved her. This time as memories of his grandmother came pouring back, he did not cry, instead he smiled, remembering her fondly.

LATER:

Tenchi stood up, stretching. "Well, I'm going to lay down and relax for a while. I've been hiding my memories of my grandmother for too long, and I felt it was time I shared her life with all of you. Thank you for listening." One by one the girls approached Tenchi, hugging him and imparting their condolences upon him. After a few more minutes, Tenchi made his way upstairs to his room, he felt drained, weak, yet at the same time Tenchi had never felt so alive. After so many years of keeping his memories and emotions bottled up, it felt great to have expressed them. Tenchi knew he would always miss his grandmother, but he knew he could go on, and that he could over come any obstacle, as long as he had friends and family like his grandfather, father, and the girls who had entered into his life.

THAT NIGHT:

Ayeka and Ryoko sat in the bath together, drinking saki. "So we are agreed then?"Ayeka asked her rival.

"Yes," Ryoko said draining yet another bottle. "I think it's for the best."

"Good, then you won't try to seduce Tenchi, and I won't try to win his heart, until he has had time to grieve over his loss, correct?" Ayeka repeated their deal, to make sure Ryoko wasn't trying to trick her. Ryoko nodded, clearly annoyed at having to repeat herself once again. "One other thing Ryoko," Ayeka said moving closer to her rival.

"What is it?" Ryoko said wondering what the princess was up to now.

"I know you were there for Lord Tenchi earlier, when he had been to his grandmother's grave." Ayeka stated a little embarrassed. "I don't know what went on between the two of you, but I'm sure you were a big help, more than I could have been, to Lord Tenchi."

"And what makes you think I did anything Ayeka?" Ryoko asked trying to sound cold.

"I could smell that dreadful aroma you call perfume on Lord Tenchi when he came in," Ayeka replied trying to match her rivals cool attitude. "I thought you must have done something to him, then when he told us about his grandmother... well, I just knew you must have been there for him. I would like to thank you, I'm not sure I could be there for him in the way you could. You are much too..."

"Obnoxious?" Ryoko offered, finishing Ayeka's comment for her. "Yes, I know. That's what Tenchi said. I guess we are both here for him in our own way." Ayeka smiled. The two women continued to sit enjoying the warmth of the bath, and each others company. Each woman vowed that one day Tenchi would be their's, and that the other woman would leave the planet defeated. For today however, at least for tonight, they were friends, and they were glad Tenchi had both of them to help him through this trying time.





Dedicated in loving memory to my grandmother Madge Moore who passed away March 15, 2001.