I do not own Tenchi, Ryoko or any other affiliated characters

I do not own Tenchi, Ryoko or any other affiliated characters. If I did, I'd think we'd have a definite pairing by now. But, since Tenchi Forever/ Tenchi Muyo In Love 2 is as close as we will probably ever get to knowing Tenchi's true choice, this is post- Tenchi Forever. I hope you enjoy reading it, cause I sure enjoyed finally writing this.

Two figures stood side by side against the golden background of the mountains, looking at the splendor of the scenery before them.
They wondered in the silence what could possibly be said next…

'Maybe there's nothing more I can say…' Tenchi Masaki thought to himself, 'I've spent too much time talking and avoiding action of
any kind which would reveal my heart.'

'Would this simple gesture be enough?' He did not know the answer to this question yet he had to try, and most of all he wanted to,
this urge to reach out was overcoming him.

With little space between him and her, the nearness was so tempting… Tenchi gingerly grabbed Ryoko's hand, then clasped it firmly.

Ryoko's heart had not slowed its increasing beating ever since Tenchi had stopped drawing in his sketch pad and rose to stand with her.

Ryoko looked down at their joined hands then up into Tenchi's eyes, to see if she could read anything in their depths, usually Tenchi was like an open book to her, after all this time. It was almost as if she knew him better than he did himself. Now though, she was not sure what was running through his mind, what could possess him to take her hand?

Tenchi smiled at her, Ryoko gave a soft smile back before turning her face away slightly in hopes her rapidly creeping blush would be
less noticeable.

"Tenchi, do you remember much about the life you lead during the time you disappeared?" Ryoko asked softly.

Tenchi closed his eyes briefly before as if he was trying to remember a fading dream upon waking, and he answered, "Bits and pieces, Ryoko."

"Hmm…" Ryoko mused, "Well, do you remember the first time we tried to come and find you and rescue you from Haruna?"

"Yes, I remember it now."

"Tenchi, we were just talking about the pleasure you find in drawing, how it reminds you of things close to your heart."

Tenchi smirked, "Of course, my memory isn't that bad."

"Then Tenchi, when Ayeka and I came to rescue you and bring you back to the life you knew, the world you knew… You remembered my name yes?"

Tenchi nodded, "Yes." He thought she might begin to put it all together.

"You forgot who Ayeka was, yet managed to remember me somehow? You even went so far to say that I might have come to life out of your drawing…"

"You're a smart cookie Ryoko. Yeah, I had been wondering if you were real or not."

Ryoko jokingly asked, "Oh, so you weren't sure?"

"Flashes of something more… came to my mind during my stay in Haruna's world."

"What something more?"

"You." Tenchi replied simply.

Ryoko gasped, "Me, Tenchi?"

"Yes, I saw visions of you and Ayeka arguing… It seemed all too real to me."

Ryoko looked down with a sigh, a little disappointed, "Oh. Well I'm glad you remembered us both."

"Ryoko… you were the one, I was drawn to remember."

Surprised she asked, "What are you saying Tenchi?"

Tenchi stated, "Haruna hated you."

"What'd she hate so much about me?"

Tenchi explained, "She hated your picture. She wanted my heart and mind to only have room for her alone; she did all she could to manipulate it to be so. She knew what drawing meant to me, how I expressed myself on canvas. That drawing of you was proof she did not have complete control over me."

Ryoko whispered as a tear rolled down her cheek, "I thought you were lost to me… and I couldn't bear it if you ever… were truly
gone from me. I thought I couldn't reach your heart with mine…"

"Ryoko, you were the only tie that bound me back to this world. My thoughts kept coming back to you, this strong presence in my mind… the more I thought on you… the more that world's hold on me weakened."

Ryoko shed more tears, "Oh Tenchi… I…"

Tenchi continued to explain, "You were just so real, I could not let go of you. It was… impossible."

"When Haruna said that world, that she had become all that was real to you… I almost lost hope."

Tenchi smiled to assure her, "There was always hope Ryoko."


Tenchi lifted her hand, which he was still holding firmly to his lips and kissed her knuckles before speaking, "This is what's real to me Ryoko. You gave me hope."

Ryoko closed her eyes relishing the feel of his lips upon her hand, and she listened on savoring his words.

"That life wasn't enough. My life just wasn't right without you in it."

Tenchi observed her, he smiled… waiting for her to open her beautiful golden eyes again.

She did open her eyes slowly, wanting these sensations to last as long as possible,

She mused trying her best to stifle the laughter she felt, "Tenchi, you're staring…"

He replied, "I couldn't help it. You're just so beautiful Ryoko. I've always thought so. Your deep golden eyes that bring out your unique, gorgeous cyan colored hair." Tenchi used his free hand to run his fingers through her hair as he said more, "You have no idea how long I've thought of doing this, touching your hair, seeing that color against my fingertips. This color I remembered above all else."

'This is almost too much,' Ryoko thought to herself, 'yet it could never be enough. I've longed for him to touch me like this. How does he know the right things to do?'

Tenchi moved his hand from her hair, to her face, "The outline of your face, you were an image but so much more somehow… I had to know more."

Ryoko turned her cheek his palm, closing her eyes yet again, she couldn't help letting herself melt into his touch.

Tenchi sighed and wondered, "Oh Ryoko… have I always had this kind of affect on you?"

A soft smile played at Ryoko's lips as her face was in his hand, "Yes Tenchi, always."

He returned her smile, "Good to know."

He hesitated to take his hand from her face, it was she who moved from the warmth of his touch first as she said, "Tenchi, I thought someone like Haruna was your dream girl. Someone 'normal,' someone I'm not."

Tenchi shook his head slightly as he explained, "Ryoko, dreams are just that. I don't want to chase shadows or illusions anymore. I want to hold onto something, someone that's real for once… That is better than dreams. You are better than dreams, though I dream of you. Besides, normal is overrated."

"Tenchi… I'm not…"

Tenchi interrupted, "Ryoko, it's not like you to doubt yourself. I know you've been through so much but... The Ryoko I know believes in herself, in everything she does."

The sparkle returned to Ryoko's eyes as she said, "I didn't think you knew me so well…"

"Ryoko, I know who you are. I always did. The pirate who stole my heart and took it on a never-ending journey with her. Every moment with you is an adventure. You're the one who knew me best, knew where my heart belonged before I did. In the end, you always knew it'd be you didn't you? You'd be the one. "

Ryoko mused, "Well… Tenchi, let's just say I kept hope alive. I hoped against hope."

"Oh Ryoko… there's always hope." Tenchi smiled.

"I've realized though Tenchi, with all that's happened… I won't act as 'she' did. I'm in no rush. You don't have to hurry… I'll be patient; I'd wait forever for you.
No pressure. You're still young yet, as I said… I like you this way."

Tenchi laughed, "That's really not like you at all… what's brought this change?"

"You did. Are you laughing at me? I'm trying to… forget it." Ryoko turned from him and made a movement to start to leave."

Tenchi stated not letting her hand go free of his, not wanting to break the connection between them, "Don't leave, stay with me. I didn't mean to upset you. I need you. Are you going somewhere? I thought you've waited long enough to know my heart… to hear…. Right when I'm finally about to say the words… when I want to tell the truth, just so you'll know…."

Ryoko stood still, for a long moment… as Tenchi added…

"I love you Ryoko. I'm in love with you."

She looked over at him then closed her eyes as she said,

"You don't know how long I've waited to hear those words from you … seems forever."

He noticed her eyes watering when she opened them, "What's the matter Ryoko?"

He pulled her closer to him in an attempt to comfort her.

She cried on his shoulder as she whispered to him, "Tenchi, it's almost too wonderful to believe."

"Believe it Ryoko, believe me. Please." Soft desperation was evident in his voice as he made his request, as he struggled to reach her heart.

"I want to." Ryoko replied honestly.

Tenchi questioned, "Have I reached through, deep enough to touch your heart? Will you trust me, will you let me in?"

Ryoko whispered into his chest, "Tenchi, you are my heart. Always have been. Everything I am or want to be is you. You have so much of my heart, there can't be any doubt, there's nothing left to give… I entrust all of it to you."

Tenchi smiled at her, "By all means, then take my heart Ryoko. It belongs with you alone."

"I'll always be here with you Tenchi. I'll be there for you. I've traveled all over the galaxy. I've flown among the stars, searching for what would complete me. You free me Tenchi, it could only be you. Thank you."

"Ryoko, I'm grateful to you. Beyond words. All your sacrifices, I never forgot a single one of them. You're so strong. When I think about love that is unconditional and unyielding. I think only of you. You are unquestionably the embodiment of true love. I owe you more than life, more than love."

"Love is all I ever needed, Tenchi. To be loved… loved by you." Ryoko stated.

Tenchi replied, "This is more than love, I feel more for you … than I ever thought possible. More than I could ever feel with anybody else."

Ryoko's smile widened, "I understand… I know exactly how you feel."

Tenchi laughed in return, "After all this time, do you love me even now Ryoko?"

"I more than love you, Tenchi. Still, yes even now. More than ever."

"Then from now on, forevermore let me truly be called 'your' Tenchi."

Ryoko replied softly, "Forever… my Tenchi."

"I love when you say that, it always had a ring of truth to it. Ryoko, let me make up for every pain and hurt you've ever felt. I know I caused a lot of it, but I will devote the rest of time… to making it up to you."

"Tenchi, I'd go through it all again, I'd endure anything and everything for you. Different lives, alternate universes… no matter what tried to separate us; I always love you. "

Ryoko laughed, "I thought I'd only ever be a best friend to you. I was happy at least being that, being there for you in that way… as no one else could."

Tenchi beamed at her, "Who says you can't fall in love with your best friend, my Ryoko? You get me, you understand. I can depend on you. I can't imagine anyone better; not even if I dreamed you to life. I only thank the spirits you are indeed real somehow. My unlikely angel…"

Ryoko's tears fell free…

Tenchi used his thumb to wipe the stray tears away, "What manner of tears are these, my dream, my love?"

Ryoko replied, "Happy tears, my Tenchi."

Tenchi then felt moisture in his eyes too as tears began to outline his cheek "I feel them too, I feel you. We're connected... we're soulmates. You've always been there… a part of me. The best part of me."

Ryoko nudged her face against his chest, and then backed slightly away immediately missing the warmth of his body and his embrace, "Tenchi … about the others…"

"Yes… what about them?"

"I would not hurt them for the world. Not even Ayeka, especially not Ayeka. She's become a real friend to me. They all mean so much to both of us, they're our family. I know this might sound funny coming from me but… I suggest we ease into this slowly and gradually… for their sakes. These things take time. And time is on our side. It won't forsake us now, destiny won't. Will you always love me Tenchi?"

He answered, "Always."

Ryoko pleased replied, "Then as I said, we don't have to rush into things. For now, we should keep things private between us. I think I'd like that."

"But Ryoko…"

Ryoko shushed him with a finger, "Only for now…"

Tenchi closed his eyes briefly then opened them with a smile, "I understand."

Ryoko grinned back, "Good. Oh how you've grown and matured my Tenchi. I'll treasure this time, this moment we had together. It will remain engrained in my mind and memory. Cause I know it will only be the first of many to come."

Tenchi replied as he spun her around to a position to where he could hold her from behind by the waist, "Count on it. I'll look forward to everything, our future we'll share.
The dreams we'll make real together…"

Ryoko giggled, "As I will. As I do."

Tenchi asked softly as he rested his chin on her shoulder, "Ryoko? Will you still call me yours?"

"You bet I will, that will never change. Since when did I ever not call you mine?"

Tenchi shook his head in reply, "Never."

Ryoko mused as she lifted her arm up behind her to look at him and run her fingers through his hair, "That's right my Tenchi."

"Can I ask one thing before we leave this place, this moment?"

"Ask me anything…"

"A kiss… a first kiss… we've come so close many times before." Tenchi stated as he leaned in bringing his face ever closer to Ryoko's.

Ryoko rasped out, "Of course, you needn't ask for that. All I am is yours."

Their lips met in an electric union. Feelings of true happiness, peace, and love flooded their hearts… their thoughts were numb to anything else outside of their love.
When they did finally break a part, they knew it was just the beginning of forever.