Disclaimer~ The Tenchi Muyo characters are not mine and I do not claim ownership. No copyright infringement is intended. ^-^

Chapter 1: Reflections
By: Ansa (Spectre)

Kiyone sighed as she switched off the cockpit lights and control systems. She let the long rush of air leave her lungs and past her lips as the sounds of Yagame switching into autopilot surrounded her. As she walked out past the control chairs she pushed her sleave up and glanced down at her watch, 2:35 a.m. Lately it seemed that the nights had gotten longer, but of course, she hadn't exactly been concerned with the time. After the pirate boarding, she had been a little on edge. It seemed so easy for the two masked pirates to come in and take over. All her jewelry she kept on the ship was stolen, all except something very close to her heart, something she kept with her at all times. When the hatch opened, the thugs didn't waste any time, Kiyone had heard them crashing around and grabbed her gun she always wore around her chest at night. Soon after Mihoshi's screams were muffled by a cloth gag, Kiyone continued to her door and leaned against the side of the wall, still in only a white t-shirt. The two took her by surprise as they crashed through the door and peered in.
"Freeze! Galaxy Police!" But it was too late; even the gun didn't seem to intimidate them. Noticing the green-haired goddess, one of the thugs grabbed the gun and forced her down to the floor, twisting her arm behind her back. While the other rummaged through her room grabbing anything he could find, the one on top of her used piano wire to tie her hands behind her back, cutting deep into her wrists. Kiyone screamed in pain as the deep crimson leaked form her cuts, spilling on her t-shirt. Next came the gag, the man laughed as he pulled a black cotton rag from his pocket and tied it over Kiyone's mouth, muffling her curses and profanity. As Kiyone struggled to get free, she felt the cold blue steel being pressed against her right temple. Using her own gun on her, the irony was enough to kill her. The man lowered his head and whispered in her ears as the gun pressed harder against her skin.
"Scream all you want 'cutie'...it won't stop the pain!!" Kiyone closed her eyes tightly as tears squeezed from the crevices. She held back a sob and prepared herself for the bullet to tear through her skin and muscle. She heard the click of the trigger and then silence, nothing. "You got lucky this time 'sweets'. But if you let out one scream, I'll come back and blow apart your pretty little head! You understand me?" Kiyone nodded her head as the dark figure stood up and left. As the shadows crossed over her and disintegrated, Kiyone heard the pirates' ship break away and leave their area. Kiyone let her head fall to the floor, tears streaming from her eyes and down her cheeks. The gag wasn't tied as tightly as the wire, but it was hard enough to cut the sides of her mouth, each wound bled slowly, trickling to the floor. In the next room, Kiyone could hear Mihoshi's muffled screams; the sound chilled her, because she didn't know what they had done to her. Unable to move, or to bare the pain any longer, Kiyone sat and waited. It would be twelve hours before someone had finally came to pick them up, twelve hours of fear, that the men might come back to finish them off.

Kiyone grabbed her arm, cradled in a sling; the pain throbbed each time the memory of that night played over in her head. During the robbery, the two men had broken her arm, and cut Mihoshi on the throat, just missing her jugular vein. They had both survived, but Mihoshi was left to bleed to death and had lost a lot of blood. Luckily for her, Kiyone was the same blood type and they were able to do a transfusion as soon as support had boarded, but she will never be the same again. Now, every night or so, they are both plagued by the memories, driving them to tears.
"K-Kiyone?" A soft tired voice came from the next room just as she was heading to her own. Kiyone quietly slipped through Mihoshi's opened door and sat down next to the bed.
"Yes Mihoshi?"
"Is Yagame on full alert?" Kiyone sat down next to her on the soft mattress and stroked Mihoshi's head, resting on the soft feather pillow.
"Yes, don't worry, it'll be fine." Kiyone stood up and was about to leave when Mihoshi's weak voice called her back.
"Kiyone...I-I didn't get a chance to ask you if you were alright. I-I'm sorr..."
"It's ok Mihoshi, you've been through enough. You don't have to worry about me." Before she left she pressed a small kiss on Mihoshi's forehead, even though she would never admit it, the whole time she was tied up the only thing on her mind was the fear that her partner might die. As she was bent down to soothe her, a small silver trinket fell out from Kiyone's shirt. Hanging on from a crude black cord, from what Mihoshi could tell in the dark, it seemed to be a small circular design, interwoven with knots and spirals along the inner circumference.
"K-Kiyone?"
"Yes?" Instead of telling her Mihoshi simply took the trinket in her fingers, examining it further, discovering more detail within it. Kiyone looked down and watched her for a while before speaking, smiling for the first time since the incident.
"They didn't take this?"
"No."
"How, they took all the jewelry boxes and hideaways?"
"I carry this with me everywhere. Before I came to the Galaxy Police, I had hit a rut in my life. I was unsure of whether I wanted to go on or not, I was close to giving it all up."
"What happened?" Kiyone let out a long sigh; a slight shiver rolled off her and forced her to clutch herself.
"My trust...my love, was betrayed." Mihoshi let the trinket drop from her grip and looked up at her partner. The dark of space had left the ship black as the ebony hair of the mistress called night. Even in this darkness, she could see the look on Kiyone's face, stone, silent, twitching as if she were about to burst into tears.
"Kiyone, If you..."
"His name was Hiro. Just the sound of his name would send chills down my spine. I was too young back then to know what I was getting myself into, but even know I'm not sure I would have cared. He was a son of my father's business partner. We had only met a few times before I found myself dreaming about him. He had long black hair and a strong chest; his brown eyes would stare deep into mine and pierce into my soul. After a while I would start getting letters from him, he would tuck them in my purse when I wasn't looking when we saw each other. His words reflected the heart of a true poet. Each night I would find them and read them on my bed, locking the door so my father would not come in to find them. Each word wrote another page into my heart...at one point, I was sure I was in love." A single cold tear ran down her cheek, not breaking her train of thought at all. "Then we started seeing each other out side of our fathers' business. He would sneak into my room late at night with flowers or little bracelets or lockets, and we would spend the rest of the night necking. Other times we would simply sneak out and drive out to the beach.........I gave myself to him."
Mihoshi sat there and listened harder than she had ever before, Kiyone's words making a sentimental impact within her, even shocking her. For all the years they had spent together, Kiyone had never poured out her soul to her like she was now. Never in her life would she have ever thought her to do so.
"I believed he loved me so blindly!" then she began to sob, the pain rushing back to her as if the flood gates of her held back emotion were thrown upon. Sending wave upon wave down on her, eroding her emotional strength each seconds she continued on. "I was such a fool." Kiyone buried her face in her hands; the tears flowed more frequently now, running down her cheeks. Mihoshi pushed away the blankets that covered her and took Kiyone in her arms, as Kiyone had several times before when she herself was in need of comfort.
"You were only young. No one can be a fool for being young...ever. I had some rough times myself years ago before the Galaxy Police." Kiyone looked up, the tears wet and moistening her skin as she pondered the wisdom of her partner's words. She had always thought her to be a fool, never before had she ever heard such meaningful words from her mouth. But then again, she never really gave her a chance to; besides, the previous experience had left neither of them like themselves.
"Mihoshi?"
"At least once in our lives we have seen ourselves as fools, but the only foolish part is not letting it be in the past and instead letting it rule our futures."
"Mihoshi, that was beautiful."
"Thanks, I think I read it off a fortune cookie once."
"Figures...^-^;;" Then something remarkable happened, something that totally took her off guard...she laughed. Together, they sat and laughed as if they were two old friends conversing of the best of times, instead of the worse. As she laughed, something hit her, she actually felt better. All the pain and anguish left over from years past and even the experience that left her in a sling, had melted away...and she felt better. As she sat there with her partner, all was right in the world. "Anyways, I decided that in order to get my life back together, I needed something that would make it all worthwhile. Something I could believe in. So I went to earth. I searched all over, traveled as much as I could for a purpose; studying every religion you could think of, nothing helped." A long silence followed as Kiyone stared off to the other side of the room, focusing on nothing, only the empty space before her. "Then I found this, in a little trinket shop in the middle of nowhere." Kiyone looked down and spun the cord between her fingers, making the trinket circle in place. "It was owned by this old man who looked as if his own life was as ragged as he was. His store was mostly native and ethnic gifts and medicines. I remember the smell of the walls were moldy and ranked of the many years it must have spent there. As I wondered down the aisles he spotted me and pulled me aside to a box of necklaces he had tucked away under his desk. He said to me 'You look like a young women who needs meaning to her life. I was once like you, searching for something to believe in. I've seen you in the town chapel, hear anything interesting?' I tried to tell him that I had found comfort in the sermons I heard there but he could tell I was lying. 'I never found comfort in them either,' he said. 'I need something that I can see and touch, something I can rely on.' Then he handed me this trinket, he told me it was for protection, protection against my own demons. Of course I didn't want to be rude, so I bought it and gave my thanks and left. But as soon as I stepped out of that door, my life seemed to pull itself back together, and I began to cope with my past. I'd like to believe I had done it all my own, but believing in something so childish seemed to help a lot. Ever since then, I've never taken it off."
Mihoshi sat there and watched as Kiyone clutched the trinket in her fist, and she could swear that she could almost see whatever fear was left in her partner melted away. For a while they just sat there silent; both waiting for the other to speak.
"That was the first and last time I had 'been' with a man. I was able to cope with what had happened, but somewhere deep inside me, somewhere even this trinket couldn't penetrate, I still was afraid of being hurt again."
"What happened?"
"What?"
"You never told me what happened between you two." Kiyone opened her hand and glanced down to see the trinket resting in her palm. The expression on her face once again turned to a cold concern.
"Maybe some other time. Now get some sleep, we head out for earth in the morning."
"We're going home?" Mihoshi fell back into her pillow as Kiyone helped bring the covers back to her chin.
"Yeah, the chief is giving us a few days to get ourselves back together." The covers now in place Kiyone sat back up, placing her necklace back down her shirt, pushing the hair out of her face. "We'll go visit Tenchi and the others back at the ranch, how bout that?"
"*YAWN* Great." Mihoshi let out a long yawn and rolled over to her side, bringing her hand s up to her face and closing her eyes. Smiling, Kiyone got up and quietly walked out to the doorway before turning back.
"Goodnight."
The hallway floor felt cool on the bottom of her bare feet, the shadows of space crossing over her as she walked down to her own room. The hour that had passed when she was with Mihoshi had left her a different person. The memories of her troublesome past were painful, yes, but it felt good to know she had someone to confide in. When she reached her own doorway she looked back, Mihoshi's quarters only a few feet away, but still it seemed so far. She wasn't sure why, but tonight, she needed to be with someone. Inside she still felt insecure, the moment that she had laughed with Mihoshi let it all fall away, and she felt safe.
Her emotions swelled back within her, this time, a new one. Something she had not felt for a long time past, if at all. It was strong, and made her legs weak beneath her as it moved within her. Sparking off in regions of her heart that were not touched since she was young and foolish. She stood there, only stood there for the longest time. She could not tell you how long, nor could she tell you why, all she knew was what she was feeling inside her.
Little did she know that in the other room, Mihoshi was feeling the same thing, alone, frightened. This new feeling swarming within her and leaving her shaking inside, unsure what it was or what it meant. At that moment she wished for something tangible, something she could believe in, like Kiyone's trinket. She shivered in her bed, clutching them closer to her as this new feeling invaded her. Then, without a word, Kiyone appeared in her doorway. Mihoshi looked up and saw her, both of their faces filled with this new feeling and confusion. Both felt it, both needed another. As if under a trance, Kiyone strode across the floor and gently slipped under the covers next to her partner. No, she thought, that word is too cold; her friend.
Mihoshi said not a word as did Kiyone, still they knew that they both needed this. The covers were warm and heavy, but somehow together, they were even warmer, more comfortable. Kiyone had her back to Mihoshi's as she slipped in and rested herself, resting her head on the bare mattress beneath her, the pillows occupied by the one next to her. Then, slowly, a soft pillow slid itself to her side and Kiyone let herself rest upon it. The clot was soft and cold, but a good cold. The kind of cold you had when you were a child, were you yearned each night for a cold pillow to rest you head upon to sooth your skin.
"Thanks." As Kiyone stared at the wall facing her, a dark melody played itself in her head, echoing in her mind and chilling her soul. The song of redemption and healing, she knew it was just a silly tune from a cliché metal band, but it meant something to her. She let it play, the low thump of the bass sounded so clear to her, the unique voice singing the soulful lyrics as if to her, "as I step out of the darkness..." Those words seemed all too familiar to her, as if a simple epitome of her life. No matter what her life was before, she had crawled out of it and pulled through. She had found the meaning in her life once again and was able to complete the day without breaking down and crying. She still may have her demons, but at least she had someone to go through it all with. Gently, Kiyone let her hand slide down her side down between them, and without a word, Mihoshi's soon came down so they met and held each other all through the night.