It had been three days. Three days of constant visits to Ryoko's tube. Three days of non-stop stories of what had occurred too each of the members in the household to Ryoko. Three days of prayers for the space pirate's well being. The members of the household were prepared to go on forever, but for now they needed their rest.

After dinner, the family tried to watch a movie together, but with no success. They decided to retire to bed to start the next day fresh. Ryo-Oki scampered off into the lab while the others went to bed.

Back in the lab, Washu sighed and glanced at the clock hanging from her clock. It read 11:45. Turning back to her laptop, she heard the familiar chime of someone entering her lab. The scientist smiled softly when she caught sight of Ryo-Oki racing to Ryoko's tank.

"Meow!" Ryo-Oki called to Ryoko, but she knew expecting a reply was fruitless. It had been like that for the past three days. The poor cabbit felt guilty for not being able to help out her sister. If she had been there then maybe, just maybe she would have been able to do something to help her.

The cabbit looked up at Ryoko longing for her to just open her eyes. Once she did that, everything would be okay again. Then they could go out and have fun with Sasami again or watch TV together, or just do something.

Sighing, Ryo-Oki lay on her back and stared up at Ryoko's closed eyes, willing them to open. After a few minutes of concentration and no results, she unwillingly let her eyelids begin to shut. But before the right eyelid could make its last move to shut off Ryo-Oki's consciousness for the night, a single thought caused her to jump up from her position.

It wasn't your fault, Little One.

Placing two paws on the cylinder that held Ryoko, Ryo-Oki looked up and searched for any sign of movement. Ryoko was the only one who referred to her at 'Little One'. Close to giving up, Ryo-Oki gasped as she saw an eyelid twitch.

It could never be your fault.

The cabbit stood transfixed as she saw life flow throughout Ryoko's body. Finally, those golden orbs, which she had longed to see, were finally opened and looked straight into her eyes.

I'm back.

Ryo-Oki jumped in joy when she heard those words. She watched as the liquid descended into nothingness. She looked in anticipation as the cylinder glass around Ryoko began its descent to the ground.

"Meow!" Ryo-Oki exclaimed as she launched into Ryoko's arms. The former space pirate's and the cabbit's laughs resonated throughout the lab.

"I'm back, Ryo-Oki, I'm back," whispered Ryoko.

Washu's head snapped up as the alarms on her holo top let her know that her daughter had awakened. A thousand and one emotions ran through the scientist, but the one that overpowered the rest was joy. She immediately hopped off her chair and ran toward the area where her daughter had been held.

"Ryoko! Ryoko, you're awake!" Washu exclaimed. When she reached her daughter, she was greeted by the sight of Ryoko and Ryo-Oki exclaiming at each other joyously. All restraints left her as she ran and hugged her daughter, unconsciously returning into her adult form.

"You're awake, honey. How could you do that? Don't you ever do that to me again, you here? Oh, I'm so glad that you're finally awake. Please, I'm begging you not to pull a stunt like that again. It's so great to see your beautiful eyes once again." Tears streamed down Washu's face as spoke with Ryoko. Ryoko listened to the gibberish spilling out from Washu.

So this is what it feels like to have to have someone who cares for you... Unconsciously, Ryoko smiled at this revelation, before gently pushing her mother away. She looks as if someone close to her has died.

Washu felt Ryoko pushing her away, but although she didn't want to, she complied. There was no need to cause anymore tension between them just minutes after Ryoko had waken up.

Ryoko then felt a chill run up her spine and noticed that is was due to her lack of clothes. "Umm, Washu, do you think that umm that you could give me a towel or something?"

Laughing gaily, Washu promptly fished out a towel from a subspace portal and tossed it to Ryoko. She gladly thanked kami that her daughter had been restored to her. A fainted smile touched Washu's lips as she watched her daughter dry the liquid from her hair as she talked with Ryo-Oki.

"Hey! What are you staring at?" Washu's head snapped up at the exclamation in Ryoko's voice. She had not even noticed that she had been dazed for so long.

"Nothing, my little Ryoko. I'm just so happy to have you back," was Washu's soft reply. Ryoko could feel the redness rush up to her cheeks, but she fought it down.

"Ah, well, thanks for patching me up Washu. I feel as good as new. Umm, I think that I'll go and take a dip in the onsen now. Bye." Ryoko quickly made her way across the lab, careful to leave a seven-foot radius away from Washu.

The emerald-eyed scientist watched as her daughter pass by her. Once she walked through those doors she would be gone once again. She would be gone from her life. I can't let that happen. I couldn't bare it if that happened again. Gathering her resolve and called out to her daughter.

"Wait!" Ryoko immediately stopped in her tracks. There had been no command in that voice. No authoritative note at all. It had been filled with despair, as if it that was her last shred of hope. Slowly, almost to the point that you couldn't tell if she was moving or not, Ryoko turned to face her mother.

"Why?" As soon as she heard the word she knew what Washu was asking, but she decided to play dumb, just in case.

"Why what?"

"You know what I'm talking about, Ryoko. Why did you try to end your life like that?" Confusion had found its way into her voice and the former space pirate could tell that Washu honestly didn't know. As a matter of fact, Ryoko was beginning to lose her grasp on why she had done it also.

It seemed so right at the time. All of my loved ones were against me. The ones that weren't were afraid of me. I couldn't live like that. I almost killed Washu. The love of my life con-con-controlled me. What was I supposed to do?

"I don't know," Her voice was meek and filled with uncertainty, but that had no effect on Washu.

"You don't know?!?" Washu's anger started to swell in her heart, blocking all rational thinking. "What do you mean you don't know? You don't know why you took that damn sword and shoved it through your body? You don't know why you feel you had the right to die?!?"

"I-"

"Oh no, I'm not through with you yet! That was so selfish of you! You have an 8 year old who looks up to you who has been in constant despair since you decided to end your life, a princess who blames herself, a ditz who isn't even acting like one because her mind is on you, and a boy who couldn't pick up a bokken if his life depended on it. "

"What about you?" Ryoko asked, noticing how the scientist had listed everyone but her. "You have the nerve to call me selfish when couldn't take enough time to take care of me, your 'beloved' daughter."

"My life was perfectly fine here with Tenchi before you showed up. Sure Ayeka was here to annoy me to end, but still, life was good. But nooo, you then have to show up with your damn scientific self, claiming to be my mother. What mother seduces the man her daughter loves? What mother ties her daughter up in the dark exposing her to her worst nightmares?

"Ryo-"

"NO! This time I'm not through with you! I've seen how the mothers on TV act. They act like they care for their kids. They tease them lovingly, not ridicule and embarrass them like you do to me. How many times have you actually tried to spend time with me, no strings attached? You always want something for your damn experiments, and then have the nerve to call me selfish.

"But-"

"I was hurt okay? I was hurt; I had no one to turn to, no one to talk to. I wasn't thinking straight. All I knew was that I had to get away from the pain that was searing through my heart. Death seemed like the quickest and easiest way."

"You could have come to me," Washu whispered.

"You were part of the problem! In fact you were the problem. I've never come to you before, it's not like it would have been second nature for me to come to you then." By now a few tears had gathered in Ryoko's eyes, but she refused to let them fall. Ryo-Oki felt her distress and hopped into Ryoko's arms.

"I'm so sorry, Ryoko. But you must know that I've always been there for you," Washu said, her soothing voice reaching Ryoko's ears, but it failed to stop the onslaught of Ryoko's pain.

"No, Washu, you haven't. There have been many times that you haven't been there. Like the time that bastard had me. You could have saved me. You had every chance to keep me from being taken by him."

"Wha-"

"Don't start. I know what happened. You're the greatest damn scientist in this damn universe who couldn't save her own daughter!"

"I tried-"

"Tried?!? Tried?!? Every single day you claim your scientific genius status and all you can say about it is you tried? If you had tried hard enough, we wouldn't be in your lab having this argument. If you had tried hard enough I wouldn't have the ones I loved the most terrified of me. If you had tried then I wouldn't have done all those things to make you ashamed of me," Ryoko's last statement was said in a whisper, barely audible to normal ears, but with just enough wind to carry it over to Washu's.

"Ryoko-,"

"No!" Her voice was filled with frustration that Washu didn't understand. Why couldn't Washu just understand what she was feeling? She had the link that she used without Ryoko's wish anyway.

"I'm a failure! I'm a failure at being a friend. I'm a failure at being a slave. I'm a failure at being able to love someone correctly. And most of all, I'm a failure at being your daughter." The tears that Ryoko had tried to keep bottled up finally spilled, but she refused to acknowledge them.

"Ryoko, honey, you need to listen to me. You're not a failure at any of those, in fact you've come out triumphant in all of those areas. Sure we have our disagreements, but I'll still always love you like I have from the beginning." Her compassionate voice filled the lab and glided to Ryoko's heart but was rejected.

"Why?" Bewilderment filled the air as the voice rang off the walls.

"Why what?" Washu's voice held just as much confusion as Ryoko's.

"Why do you still love me? Look at me! Have you taken a good look at me lately? I'm obnoxious, loud, and dumb. I tried to kill you for Tsunami's sake! Why won't you just let me accept that I can't be a good daughter to you? Don't you get it? I can't be what you want me to be."

"No, honey, the question is don't you get it? I don't care what you've done. You know and I know that it wasn't you. I know that underneath all of that armor Ryoko that my Little Ryoko is still there. I don't know what you think I expect from you, but I can already tell you that it's wrong. I want you, what you are right now. I want us to be able to start over. I want us to be able to obtain what we once had." Washu took in a deep breath, wondering what Ryoko's reaction would be.

Carefully, she watched as Ryoko's eyes shut, as if contemplating the information she had just been given. Is it true? She loves me for me and that we can forget about the past and move on to the future.

A smile made its way onto Ryoko's facial features and for a moment, Washu that that she might finally win her daughter back.  But instead a frown took the place of the smile that had almost won its place on her face. But she let him take me.

That nagging thought ate away at Ryoko's heart mercilessly. She's a genius, how could he have been able to get me so easily? But then again she's not perfect and neither am I.

"Why must you be so stubborn? You're so good at reading people, Ryoko. Come over here and study me and tell me if what I say is true of not," Washu was confident that this would finally let her daughter know that she was being true about her emotions. She watched as Ryoko analyzed this and began to slowly walk toward the scientist.

"If I do this and I don't believe you're honest, you must promise to leave me alone and not pursue me any longer about the mother/daughter thing. Got it?

"Got it. Ryoko, I honestly truly do love you. I've loved you since I brought you into this world, even before that. I admit that I'm not the best mother in the world, or even close. But if you give me a chance, I'll try my hardest to be the motherly figure in your life that you deserve. It pains me for you turn me away every time I want to be a part of your life. Why?" Washu's voice had started out confident and strong but then slowly turned softer and more desperate towards the end.

What will I do if she doesn't believe? Doesn't she know that she's me reason for living? Without her, I couldn't stand to be here.

Ryoko's eyes narrowed as her golden eyes locked onto Washu's emerald ones. Washu is broadcasting her thoughts and doesn't know it. She truly does mean it. It was then that Ryoko's will to fight off Washu began to dissolve. Painstakingly, she closed the gap between her and her mother. Ryoko watched as Washu's eyes widened as Ryoko's arms went around her neck.

"It's because I'm scared," Ryoko gasped, trying with all her might to hold back all the pain and fear she had been enduring.

"Oh honey, what could you possible be scared about?"

"I don't think I know how to be your daughter anymore. I'm afraid that I'll hurt you or that I'll disappoint you. I'm afraid that you may not want me anymore after awhile." It was becoming harder and harder for Ryoko to breathe easily, trying keep her tears at bay.

"Little Ryoko, you should know by now that nothing you do could ever cause me not to want you anymore. You're my daughter and I'm you mother, relationships like that can't be broken because of disputes or disagreements. Love doesn't work like that."

Ryoko's arms tightened around Washu as the onslaught of tears finally flowed from the girl's eyes. "I can't believe I'm crying now, but I am. I'm so sorry for what I've put you through and for trying to kill you. It's just all that anger and frustration and, and -"

"Shh, don't worry about it now, Little Ryoko. All that is in the past. We're finally together in harmony, and that's all that matters right now." Washu's soothing voice managed to calm Ryoko down. A contented sigh fell upon Ryoko's lips as she received the loving emotions coming from the link.

This feels good.

The feeling is mutual, Little Ryoko. The feeling is mutual.

Hey Washu?

Yes, Ryoko.

I, umm, well, ya see, -

What is it?

Umm, iloveyoutoo. For an instant, Washu's heart almost leaped from her chest, but she had to hear it just one more time.

I'm sorry, Ryoko. I didn't quite catch that.

I love you, Washu.

Giddiness filled the scientist's heart as she began to giggle like a schoolgirl.

"Hey! Why did you start laughing when I said that? It wasn't meant to be funny!" Ryoko tried to push away from Washu, but Washu wouldn't allow for her to go.

"Oh honey, I wasn't laughing at you. I was laughing because you saying that made me so happy, I just couldn't hold it in any longer." Looking at her, Ryoko noticed that Washu's eyes did have a sparkle she had never seen before, not even after completing one her new inventions.

"Okay, I believe you, but uh what time is it?" Confused by the question, Washu replied that it was about four in the morning.

"Do you think the others would mind if I woke them up a little early today. I haven't seen them in what seems like forever." Ryoko's face lighted up at the thought of seeing Sasami, Mihoshi, and even Ayeka.

"Of course not. They'd be ecstatic. Go ahead and let them know you're back," replied Washu with a smile as she gently released Ryoko.

"Great, Come on Ryo-Oki! Let's go see Sasami." As they left the lab, Ryoko looked back and said, "Thanks Washu," before shutting the door.

"Your welcome, my daughter."

As Ryoko entered into the house, she breathed in the smell of it. It felt good to be back. But that joy faded as she looked in the kitchen and found Sasami sitting on the floor with her knees to her chest and her head down.

Floating over, Ryoko whispered, "What's wrong, Sasami."

"It just feels so wrong with Ryoko not here. I hate that she's in the tube in Washu's lab all by herself. I just want her to come back." Sasami breaths were uneven as if she was trying not to cry.

With a smile, Ryoko replied, "I think that can be arranged." Finally lifting her head, Sasami shrieked as she noticed that it was Ryoko she was talking to, and just into the pirate's arms making them both tumble over.

"You're back! You're here! You're alive! You're real!" the little girl exclaimed, not releasing her hold around Ryoko.

"Yes, yes, I'm all of those things, squirt. Glad to know I was missed," chuckling, she gently lifted Sasami off of her so they could both get up. But as soon as she got up, Sasami wrapped her arms around Ryoko's waist.

"Oh, I missed you so much, Ryoko. The house is so boring and dull when you're not here. It was like it was dead. When you're here, it's so full of life and energy. I'm so glad you're okay." Ryoko made a move to reply but was stopped by a sharp pain in her side.

"Ouch Sasami! Why'd you go and hit me for," Ryoko asked while noticing that the little girl's eyes now held anger and betrayal.

"How could you do that Ryoko? Why would you want to kill yourself? Did you ever stop and think about what the rest of us would feel like if you were gone for good? It was bad enough these past three days without you, but at least we knew that sometime soon you would wake up." Kneeling down, Ryoko hugged the crying girl.

"Oh, I'm so sorry, Sasami. It's just that at that moment nothing seemed like the better choice to get rid of my problems than that. I promise I won't do it ever again," the guilt started catching up to Ryoko making her about her think about her actions a little more closely.

Sasami's pink eyes met Ryoko's amber ones. "Do you promise? Because I wouldn't know what to do without you."

"I promise Sasami, I don't think anything will cause me to want to get rid of my life again." Ryoko then wiped away the last of the girl's drying tears before separating herself from her. "And today, we'll spend the whole afternoon together." She chuckled as Sasami's eyes lit up.

"Great! I can't wait to tell Ayeka!" Sasami was preparing to dash upstairs to tell her sister, but before she made it out of the kitchen Ryoko grabbed her wrist.

"Umm, how about I tell her, Sasami. I want to see her face when she wakes up to see the face of a demoness in the morning," Ryoko said while grinning mischievously. Her grin turned into a guffaw when Sasami nodded and smiled in the same manner. That kid is truly spending too much time with me.

On her way up the stairs, Ryoko paused at the small princess's voice.

"Ryoko?"

"Yeah?"

"I do love you, ya know."

"I know. I love ya too, kiddo."  And with that Ryoko floated the rest of the way up the stairs as Sasami made her way back into the kitchen, a feeling of contentment passing through both girls.

"Okay, who should I wake up first? Ayeka or Mihoshi? Hmm…I guess I'll leave up to Eenie, Meenie, Miney, and Mo." After saying the little children's rhyme she quickly phased into the winner's room. "Rise and shine Mihoshi!"

"Ugh, five more minutes," the blond groaned as she turned over in her sleep. Ryoko chuckled as Mihoshi pulled the pillow over her head and turned her back to her.

"Well, if that didn't wake her up, then maybe this will." Grinning maliciously, Ryoko phased into the restroom and filled a bucket with icy cold water. Phasing back into Mihoshi's room, the former space pirate then lifted the pillow dumped the water on the officer's head.

"Aah!" Mihoshi sputtered and coughed and tried to look around for the jokester. Looking up, she noticed Ryoko howling as she rolled around in the air while pointed to her victim.

"Ryoko! Why, when I get my hands on you, you're gonna pay dearly for that!" She then promptly tried to jump on the bed and grab Ryoko, but instead slipped on the wet sheet, causing Ryoko to laugh even harder. Mihoshi didn't help matters any by trying again and again to grab Ryoko and falling back on her sheets.

Giving up, the Galaxy Police officer collapsed on her sheets panting heavily. Seeing that Mihoshi had finally given up, she descended till she was right next to Mihoshi. She quickly found out that was a big mistake. She soon found herself being banged into the bed with Mihoshi's grip firmly clasped on her shoulders.

"How could you do that?!? I trusted you, and you had to go and do something like that? What were you thinking when you decided to pull that stunt?!? Huh?"

"Uh…Mih…oshi….can't…breathe…let….go!" Ryoko gasped, trying to suck in as much air as she could.

Mihoshi, realizing what she was doing, quickly let go. "I'm so sorry, Ryoko. Wouldn't want you end up in the rejuvenation tank again now, would we?" The words were and spoken with bitterness causing Ryoko to glance up at Mihoshi. But the woman was already sitting on the edge of the bed, her back turned to Ryoko.

Crawling to the edge of the bed, Ryoko apologized, "I'm sorry Mihoshi, it was just a joke." Receiving no response she tried again. "I said that I was sorry, Mihoshi. Geez, if I had known it would get this reaction from you, I wouldn't have done it in the first place. I was just trying to wake you up."

Mihoshi then spun her body around to face Ryoko's. "It's not about your practical joke, Ryoko. It's about you. Do you know how many times I went into Washu's lab praying that you would wake up? Do you know what it felt like to see a loved one being taken into a lab with a wound in her side that she herself caused? I felt so helpless just watching you bleed like that and knowing that there was nothing I could do to help you." By now two crystalline tears had made their way down the blonde's cheeks.

"No, I don't Mihoshi, but I'm so sorry for having to put you as well as the others through that. I had a lot of time to reflect over the past couple of days and I realized that when I did what I did, I not only hurt myself, but I also hurt the ones that I loved the most. It was stupid of me to be so selfish, but it felt as if there was no one I could run to," Ryoko confessed, guilt flowing through her words.

At this Mihoshi's eyes narrowed. "What about me, Ryoko? You know that I'd always be there for you!" It didn't take much for Ryoko to notice the hurt etched in her words.

Standing up without making eye contact, Ryoko turned to face a wall, away from Mihoshi. "Do you know how ashamed I was when I looked into your and Sasami's eyes to noticed that there was fear in them, fear that I caused?"

"Listen to me, Ryoko. We weren't afraid of you, we were afraid for you." By Ryoko's stance she could tell that her friend didn't believe her. Sighing, she tried a different tactic. "What will it take for you to stop beating yourself about it? What will it take for you to be able to forgive yourself?" Still no response came from the pirate's form. Getting fed up, Mihoshi made her way across the room.

"Fine, if you don't want to look at me then I'll come over to you," the anger in her eyes dissipated as soon as she stared into Ryoko's eyes. It seemed as if she was having a war within herself.

"Say you'll forgive me," Ryoko words were barely above a whisper but it was as if she had yelled them to the world to Mihoshi. Slowly she closed in on Ryoko, encircling her in a hug when she reached her.

"Of course I forgive you!  In fact there was nothing to forgive. I'm just glad your back," replied the officer with sincerity in her words.

"I've missed you so much over the past three days. This house was so different without you. The need to have fun and let loose just wasn't there. Not even Space Police Policeman was any fun to watch without you telling me how dumb of a show it was!" Ryoko chuckled at the last comment.

"Well, I'm back and I'm here to stay! And if you'll excuse me, I now have to go see Ayeka," Mihoshi chuckled as she noticed that her friend could hardly keep a smile off of her face.

"I take it you won't gently wake her up are you?"

"No way, if you think what I did to you was bad then wait till you hear Ayeka screaming. I bet she'll even be heard by the people in America!" Mihoshi merely laughed at the childish joy that coursed throughout Ryoko. It was good to have her back again. Before her cyan-haired friend could phase out, Mihoshi called to her.

"Yeah, what is it?"

"Just remember, that I'm going to get you back for the way that you woke me up," Her only reply was the disappearing laughter that Ryoko left behind as she phased away. Yes, it was good to have her back.

Phasing into Ayeka and Sasami's room, Ryoko floated Indian style above Ayeka's bed trying to figure out how to wake the princess up. Hmm, I could phase her to above the lake and drop her in it. Or I could yell into her ears and jumpstart her awake. Or I could try that shaving cream trick I saw on TV. Too wrapped up in her own thoughts, Ryoko failed to notice that Ayeka was beginning to wake up.

Moments later screaming could be heard from the room followed by the squeaking of the bed and then a large thump on the floor. Back in the room, Ayeka was laughing uncontrollably, while Ryoko tried to get off the floor while rubbing her rear.

"Would you quit laughing already? It wasn't even funny!" grumbled Ryoko, a frown etched across her face. This only caused Ayeka to laugh harder and point at the disgruntled pirate.

"W-who…woulda…known…th-that the…s-s-space…p-pirate ry-ryoko…could be….s-scared…by the w-word…BOO!" gasped the princess in between laughing and breathing.

"Stop laughing! Stop laughing! Stop laughing!" stomping her foot like a two-year-old only caused the purple-haired being to laugh even harder, not noticing until it was too late that she too had fallen off the\ bed. Sobering quickly, the princesses laughs soon turned into gasps of air.

"Ha! So now you know how it feels! Now if you'll excuse I have somewhere else to go, away from you!" Ryoko then stuck her nose in the air facing away from Ayeka and began to phase away.

"Ryoko, wait! I'm sorry I laughed at you, but don't leave just yet. I-I missed you." Ayeka's eyes were now downcast.

"Fine, I won't leave. I just came to tell you that I was back, and umm…," Ryoko was now confused as to what was to be said, because unlike the others, she didn't have a close relationship with Ayeka.

"I'm so glad you are back and well. I don't know what I would have done if you had actually d-" Ayeka couldn't continue on with her sentence.

"Died?" Ryoko finished her sentence for her. What does it matter it's not as if she cares about me or anything. I wouldn't be surprised if it was just some act the other day when she found me after I stabbed myself. At the gasp from the princess, Ryoko's face fell. Damn, I must have said that out loud.

"Is that what you truly think, Ryoko? Do you think I truly care nothing for you and could care less whether you died or not?" frustration was etched into her words. "You could at least look at me!"

Sighing, Ryoko turned around until her eyes were locked into Ayeka's. "Actually, yes I do." She failed to notice the tears cascading down the princess's cheeks.

"Ryoko, what I said over there by the cave was true! I do care for you. I would even trust you with my life. You're my best friend, the first person other than Sasami who stopped treating me like a princess and started treating me like a person. What do I need to do to get it through your head?"

"Well, you could start with sneaking in a piece of chocolate cake from the fridge for me," was the sly reply from the space pirate.

"Ryoko, this is no time for one of your games. I'm being serious here."

"I'm being serious also. Go get me some chocolate cake and I'll call it a truce. Oh, and by the way, I already knew all that stuff. I just had to hear it out in the open from your mouth and your mouth alone." Laughing the pirate let herself fall back until she was on Sasami's futon.

"Why you-I never would have thought…I can't believe…you made me…you mean to tell me that I said all of that for NOTHING!" Grabbing a pillow, the first crowned princess of Jurai made her way to the notorious ex-space pirate.

"Now, now Ayeka," began Ryoko while blindly reaching for a pillow. But before she could reach one, Ayeka began viciously attacking Ryoko with the pillow. Finally Ryoko grabbed a pillow and phased out of sight, leaving the bewildered princess, only to be hit in the back of the head. The battle was on. Several hits and empty throws were tossed, but in the end it left to very tired, happy women.

"By the way, Ayeka," Ryoko began after getting her breathing down to a normal rate, "I actually didn't know that you felt that way about me. It felt good to know that I have a friend in you and that you also felt you had a friend in me as well." Standing up and reaching out her hand to Ayeka, Ryoko asked, "Friends?"

Smiling, the princess grabbed her hand, stood up, and embraced her in a hug. "Friends."

Letting go, Ryoko said that she needed a dip in the onsen before breakfast. Before she phased away she told Ayeka to take a look in the mirror. Birds spread their wings and flew away in fright as Ayeka's scream could be heard throughout the forest.

Chuckling, Ryoko walked down the hall embracing the joy of being back home. But her joy was short-lived as a sound behind her caught her attention. Turning around she came face to face with a pair of brown eyes.

"Ryoko!"

A/N: Hey I'm back, sorry bout the long delay. I thought I'd have the whole summer to relax and be able to finish this story, but I was proved wrong. I had so much stuff thrown at my face it wasn't even funny…but enough about me…I hope you all enjoyed this chapter and I thank all of ya'll for reading it. I didn't want to add too much drama and angst in this chapter because trust me, you'll be getting enough in the next one…About the way I presented Mihoshi, I didn't feel it was right to represent her in the light of being totally dumb and ignorant after something so traumatic happened in the family, so I felt this was a better way to represent her…Once again sorry for the delay and I know for sure I'll have the next chapter out sometime in August because I'm already working on it…

Oh yeah, please review! I'd love to see what everyone thought of it! J