The world was spinning. Around and around and around it went. Vague shapes of carrots, hoes, and carrying baskets danced before her eyes.

"There you are," said a concerned voice as a door slid open, allowing in a bright shaft of light.

Lying sprawled on the floor, with several empty sake bottles scattered about her, Ryoko hiccuped and looked up with bleary eyes. "Tenshi?" she asked weakly as he entered.

Tenchi knelt down and took Ryoko's hand. The dimness of the shed washed the colors from him, making him seem composed of varying shades of gray. "Hey. I was worried about you."

Rolling over onto her side, Ryoko curled her body around Tenchi's legs, burying her face in his calves.

"Honey?" he asked with concern. "Are you okay?"

"No," she slurred. "I am not."

He rubbed her back and closed his eyes. "Maybe, we shouldn't look at any more memories 'Yoko," he murmured.

She groaned and rolled on to her other side, facing away from him. "We've had this conversation," she said darkly.

"Yes, but look at you! Missing for two hours! Drunk on the floor! I don't think this 'scrapbook' is doing anything but hurting you," he hissed, grabbing her shoulders, twisting her around so he could look her sternly in the eyes.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," she moaned. "I'm a bad girl."

Tenchi winced. "Shhh, no, no, no. I didn't mean it that way." He helped her to a sitting position. "Let's get back to our room okay?"

"But that's what Momma said. She said I was a bad girl," Ryoko sniveled, wiping her nose on the back of her sleeve.

"Well, she was wrong!" Tenchi snapped. "You are anything but bad," he continued more mildly. "You are my. my. my innocent little Ryoko," he crooned into her hair.

Ryoko let go a stream of drunken gurgles that were probably intended as laughter.

He sighed. "Come on now, up you go," he grunted as he grabbed her hands and attempted to haul her to her feet.

"Let me help you," Washu said quietly as she stepped into the shed. Her dark pink bangs shaded her eyes, hiding her expression, while her drooping shoulders spoke of her sadness.

"Washu." Tenchi's voice held anger at her for inventing the machine that had caused his Ryoko so much pain, as well as traces of disgust for Washu's behavior so long ago.

Being a genius, Washu picked up on all of it and bit her lip as she pushed Ryoko from behind while Tenchi pulled. As Ryoko shuffled to her feet, Washu slipped to one side of her daughter and supported her, while Tenchi did the same on the other side. "I deserve whatever curses you are thinking at me, Tenchi," Washu whispered, catching Tenchi's eyes over Ryoko's shoulder. " I deserve worse."

"Hey, you better be nice to my mom," Ryoko declared, tripping over her own feet as Tenchi and Washu began walking her out the door.

Washu tsked. "Ryoko, Honey, shut up and focus on walking. Right now you can only do one thing at a time." She looked over to Tenchi. "Hang on tightly. She's likely to do something crazy."

"I'm too sick to do the chicken dance," Ryoko protested.

With a weak chuckle, Washu teleported the three of them to Tenchi and Ryoko's bedroom, and helped Tenchi lay Ryoko on the bed. Ryoko had passed out mid-transport and was buzz-sawing through logs, a small line of drool hanging from her bottom lip.

For a long moment, the two protectors just watched her sleep in the security of her own bed.

"Washu," Tenchi began, the raw tones in his voice warning her of an oncoming outburst.

She held up a hand to stall him and met his gaze with sad, tired eyes. "Save it. You are quite right. That scrapbook was a stupid idea. I didn't realize it would hurt her this much."

"How do you know it hurt her?" he asked suspiciously.

"Besides the fact she is cold drunk for the first time in months? The link you simpleton. Ryoko only thinks she can make me stay out of her mind."

"You watched?!?" Tenchi asked clearly offended. "She asked you NOT to watch!"

"Of course I did! Did you think I would let her face the darkness of her past unaided?" Washu defended herself, flicking her long hair over one shoulder.

Tenchi nodded his understanding reluctantly. "I guess not."

"Besides, she was only trying to protect me. I'm not the one who needs protection." Washu looked around the room. "Where is it?"

Understanding, Tenchi moved to the nightstand on his side of the bed and pulled open the top drawer. He removed the device and held it up to Washu.

Washu's eyes narrowed in determination. "Watch out, this might sting." She reached out her hand, and in a display that matched Ryoko's powers, she sent out a small sphere of energy. It hit the device square-on, and in a flash of fire and black smoke, the memory recorder disintegrated.

Tenchi jumped back and waved his hand around. "Youch!"

Seeing he was merely surprised and not injured, Washu fixed him with a stern expression. "Look here, I want it on the record that I made that thing to encourage her to explore her happy memories. I had no idea she would even touch the darker ones."

Tenchi's expression became more understanding. "Well, I'm happy it's gone. Just look at her."

Watching her daughter's fitful sleep Washu tilted her head and twirled a tendril of red hair around a fingertip. "Just keep in mind that my machine was just a recorder. Something to help her process all of her returned data. She could remember just as well without it. It mainly served as a prompt. She might keep exploring those memories, even with it gone."

"The last set really tore her up," Tenchi said, sitting on the bed near Ryoko. He stretched his back up and out, then relaxed, settling into a comfortable position. He laid his hand lightly over Ryoko's.

Washu pulled up a desk chair and sat within a comfortable conversational range. "Yeah, those weren't a real walk in the park for me either." Her eyes were shadowed, and she looked away, not willing to display her pain so publicly.

Tenchi reached out and patted Washu's hand where it lay on her lap. "I can't even imagine."

"I forgot all about that last one. I was so blind." Washu's head bowed, further hiding her expression from Tenchi. "And I've been wondering all this time why she despised me so much," she muttered, her self-reproach present like a sour scent in the room.

Tenchi was silent. There was clearly no response required.

"And it gets worse Tenchi." Washu ran a finger under her lashes and looked up to face him, her eyes shining fiercely. "Let me tell you, so she won't have to."

"What?" Tenchi asked, not quite following her train of thought.

"I will tell you what happened after that last set of memories. Otherwise, Miss Stubborn over there will feel the need to finish what she started."

Tenchi nodded and leaned forward with morbid fascination, and the words Washu wove were just as vibrant as any memory Tenchi had watched unfold on the now destroyed scrapbook.


The grey light of a misty evening filled Washu's spotless kitchen. Looking distracted, she poured herself a cup of coffee and wandered back to her Academy office via a handy subspace portal. Her home brewed coffee was the best so why even bother with the sludge they sold in the faculty commissary?

She smiled. Too bad nobody else understood subspace like she did. The freedom of movement it allowed her was priceless. And her neat Academy office, so expertly organized, was really the best place to work. Why even try to duplicate it at home?

Feeling superior, Washu sat back at her microscope. She leaned forward and caught a glimpse of cyan hair around the corner. It looked like Ryoko was still working on her homework. "Little Ryoko, you might as well go on home, it looks like I am going to be here for a while."

The shock of hair bobbed a bit, probably indicating an apathetic shrug.

Washu frowned. Ever since the incident with Kagato last week Ryoko had not spoken one word to her mother, verbally or mentally. Yet, oddly for someone who was obviously furious with her, Ryoko hardly ever left her side. It was as if she was frightened of something.

Or someone, Washu's conscious whispered, not needing to name names. Could he have really done something to Ryoko? It was unlike the youngster to stay so angry for so long without reason. She had a temper, but it usually flared and dissipated in the same moment.

It was true, her mind nagged, Ryoko's form had suddenly changed from that of a gangly girl to a voluptuous woman. And Kagato was a male. Didn't all males want the same thing?

She rubbed her eyes, trying to banish the images she saw in her mind. Her prize student couldn't be capable of that sort of behavior could he? She trusted him for the Goddess's sake! And all males were different! Just because her ex-husband had been a piece of. well, it was better not to go there.

But Ryoko was acting so strangely. Not eating, not sleeping, always hanging around in sight of her mother. And this silent treatment. It was scary.

Washu's analytical mind crunched the data at hand, and the answers were frightening. Was the unthinkable true? Didn't Ryoko deserve the benefit of the doubt?

As she pondered, the main door to her office slid open, admitting the sound of happy girlish chatter as two of Ryoko's best friends came giggling into the room. Washu listened sharply, hoping for more clues.

"Hey 'Yo! Whatcha doing?"

"Studying," was Ryoko's brusque reply.

"Still?" tittered a second voice. "Lets go play some power ball or something."

"No thanks," Ryoko all but growled. "I'll catch you later."

"Come on 'Yo 'Yo," pleaded the first voice. "We haven't really seen you all week."

"Don't call me that! You know I hate that!" Ryoko snapped.

A tense silence followed the outburst.

"Ryoko?" One of the girls asked timidly. "Don't you like us anymore?"

"Just get out!" Ryoko shouted. "I'm not going anywhere."

"But 'Yo.."

"OUT! OUT! OUT!" Ryoko screamed. Washu jumped at the sound of a thrown object hitting the wall.

The sounds of sniffling preceded the swishing of the office door as the girls left. Into the following silence Ryoko panted, sounding as if she had run a marathon.

Holding her tongue, Washu shook her head sadly. Poor Ryoko. Her hormones will still making her so unpredictable. Not wanting to play power ball during peak season? No, Ryoko was unstable right now. Which made her accusations about Kagato lose all reliability. Washu felt guilty for suspecting her star student when the truth was so obvious.

She leaned back over the eyepiece and got back to work examining some of Ryoko's most recent cell cultures. This problem wasn't going to fix itself.

An hour passed as mother and daughter steadily ignored each other and focused on their own tasks. At that late of an hour, the silence was offset by the little sounds that echoed around the building. The metal joints in the wall sighed as they contracted with the cooler external temperatures of the evening. Water could be heard rushing through the pipes from time to time. And over these subtle sounds were the steady sounds of Ryoko's pencil solving complex equations and the rattle of Washu switching her glass slides form time to time.

Washu's ears caught the sudden stop of Ryoko's writing. Was she finally going to give up and go home alone? Wait what was that? It sounded like Ryoko was hyperventilating. "What's wrong?" Washu demanded.

Ryoko came shuffling into the room gripping her right arm. "It's paralyzed!"

"What?" Washu asked. "Come here!"

Ryoko stumbled forward and let her useless arm drop onto her mother's desk. "I don't know what happened!" she yelped, big tears dripping from her eyes.

Washu gently prodded the leaden limb. "Now calm down. Tell me what happened."

Snuffling back tears, Ryoko shook her head. "I. I . don't know."

Washu closed her eyes briefly and offered her daughter a reassuring smile upon opening them. "What where you doing when it started?"

"My sub-space physics homework. You know, the extra assignments you gave me."

Washu nodded. "Then?"

"My fingers started tingling."

Washu ran her own fingertips over those on Ryoko's afflicted hand. "Mmm- hmmm."

"Then they felt kind of. cold. Not cold exactly, more like cool and dead."

Washu nodded. "And then?"

"It spread up my arm. Then I turned and." here Ryoko cut herself off abruptly, obviously editing her speech.

"And then?" Washu repeated.

Ryoko shook her head curtly, her lips pressed into a firm line as tears continued to silently run down her face.

"What aren't you telling me?"

Looking heartbroken, Ryoko wiped her tears. "Nothing you'd believe."

"What does that mean?" Washu demanded.

"What's wrong with me?" Ryoko asked instead of answering. "Will it be okay?"

Washu pulled up her holographic computer and keyed in a few basic commands. "I'm scanning right now. What makes you think I wouldn't believe you? Turn your arm over please."

Ryoko used her working arm to reposition her lifeless one without looking up at her mother. A short, betrayed laugh was her only verbal response. It was a sound too old and jaded for a young girl.

As her laptop sent filaments of green light over her daughter's arm Washu bit her lip. Something was really wrong here. This wasn't typical of Ryoko's hormonal rages, it was too calm and quiet. There was a real problem and somehow, her little Ryoko had lost her faith in her mother.

"Please tell me," Washu whispered.

"There is nothing to tell," Ryoko whispered back.

A chime sounded on Washu's computer, distracting her from the conversation at hand. She frowned at the output and gingerly entered in a response. Immediately, Ryoko's fingers twitched back to life.

Ryoko heaved out a breath of relief and massaged her arm while she flexed its muscles. "That's much better. Thanks. No time to talk. Lots of homework." She scrubbed away the remains of her drying tears and vacated that section of her mother's office.

Washu nodded absently and continued staring at her computer read out. It appeared that somehow, the routines governing the operation of Ryoko's arm had been shut down by some sort of code virus. It had penetrated her nervous system peripherally and had been shut down by Ryoko's inset safety codes once it had reached the nerves feeding into her central nervous system. It was clearly an assault of some sort. Who could have done that?

Doubt was back, tickling the edges of her subconscious.


Two days after the arm incident, Washu sat at her bench, carefully adding a phial of powder to a bubbling beaker of purple liquid. It was a beautiful weekend afternoon, but if she wanted to submit her grant on time, she needed to finish this last set of tests. And research funding was s something any genius couldn't get enough of. She was working in what she liked to think of as her home lab, but it was really just another portion of the sub space network she had been creating bit by bit over the years. She had access to most of these spaces from many locations, but this room was only accessible from the house. She might like to work at the GA on most days, but when it came to the tricky stuff, her subspace labs had the best equipment.

A loud slurp caught Washu's attention and she looked over at Ryoko, who was finishing up a can of soft drink. Washu pursed her lips. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and her athletic daughter was curled up in a beanbag reading a book. Not that Little Ryoko didn't love to read, but sunny spring days usually found Ryoko out on the ball courts or participating in hovercraft races.

Something was clearly wrong, and Ryoko was being silent as the grave about whatever it was. Washu was very worried. Ryoko was scared of something. No, she was terrified. Washu was pretty certain that Ryoko was sneaking into her mother's bedroom at night and sleeping under the bed. This wasn't typical behavior at all. But it wasn't unstable behavior either.

Ryoko wouldn't talk about it! No complaints, no confidences.. Nothing! That more than anything convinced Washu that it wasn't just Ryoko's chaotic hormones. In fact, all of her recent tests had shown that those systems were stabilizing.

It was something else. Something she hoped with all of her heart wasn't true.

The door to the slid open and Kagato strode in looking rather cheerful.

"Good afternoon professor. Still working on our little monster's chemical chaos?" he asked genially.

Washu's eyes narrowed at his use of language, and flicked over to her daughter. Instead of firing off a typical retort, Ryoko was softly shaking and seemed to be hiding behind her book. "Was that really necessary?" Washu asked tightly, becoming more convinced about the validity of her misgivings.

Kagato laughed a lowly. "I meant it fondly, I assure you."

Washu nodded. "Her hormonal levels have stabilized. Those problems are behind us." She meant it as a warning. That she would believe whatever Ryoko had to say from now on.

His eyes lit up. "Oh excellent news! Quite on time I'd say." He rubbed his hands together in pleasure.

"I'm glad you had faith in my agenda," Washu said dryly, her stomach knotting.

"Indeed. Ryoko, prepare my bench with supplies for a beta-three reduction," Kagato ordered casually.

Still trembling, Ryoko immediately got to her feet and hurried over to Kagato's work area and began setting things up, her face carefully devoid of any emotion.

"So professor, still thinking of getting that grant in on time, eh?" he asked conversationally, as if nothing odd were happening.

"We need to talk Kagato," Washu ordered, watching Ryoko scurry around with disbelief.

He ignored her. "Ryoko, how many times have I told you not to mix those chemicals? Do it again please," Kagato chided with mild derision. "So. The deadline in next week, right?" he asked conversationally.

Washu nodded mutely, with narrowed eyes. Her student, her cohai, was ignoring her. Her daughter was meekly following his orders with fear so strong Washu could almost smell it. Washu knew it for certain now. Ryoko had been telling the truth.

Kagato walked over to his station and observed the set up. "This will do. Ryoko, take notes." He sat very close to her, the sides of their hips touched.


Kagato turned to face Washu. "Hmmmm?"

"What are you doing?" Washu asked, fury adding sharp edges to her words.

"Why, taking you up on your offer to have Ryoko to be my servant. Though I must say she has been very scarce these last few days. Maybe we should punish her. What do you think?" he asked seriously.

"Ryoko come here. Now," Washu ordered.

Looking hopeful, Ryoko scuttled over to her mother's side. Washu slid a protective arm around her shoulders. "I made no such offer," she said coldly.

"Of course you did. It was in her room. You told her to do whatever I said."

"I didn't mean it like that, and you know it," Washu hissed.

"Do you think it's a bad idea then? I think its high time our little creation earns it's keep, don't you?"

Washu stiffened. "MY DAUGHTER, you mean. You have no claim on her."

"But I was there through her whole creation. I'm just as much her father as you are her mother, if I were to go in for that sort of thing. I have the right to expect certain things of her." He ran his eyes up Ryoko's body as he spoke.

"No!" Ryoko shouted. "Shut-up!"

Washu tightened her hold on Ryoko's shoulders. "Its okay honey." She backed the two of them up to the fixed portal that exited to their home. "Student number 4567691836, you and I will have a talk with the Dean and the Galaxy Police tomorrow morning," she stated coldly as she took herself and Ryoko through the door. "If I were you, I'd already be packed."


"You. you believe me?" Ryoko whispered in a broken voice as Washu locked the portal behind them.

Washu sank to her knees and pulled Ryoko into a fierce hug. "Yes, yes, yes. I believe you. I am so sorry. So sorry."

Ryoko hugged back as a scared cry quavered from her lips. "Just don't let him get me. Please!"

Washu rubbed Ryoko's back and made soothing noises. "I promise, honey." There was an awkward pause. "Sweetie. Honey. what did he do to you?" Washu asked, afraid of the answer.

Ryoko buried her head in Washu's neck and avoided the question. "Why didn't you believe me mommy?"

Washu took a long and slow breath and decided not to push right now. "Well, because I was an idiot."

Ryoko pulled back and gave her mother an incredulous look. "What?" she sniffed.

Washu's throat tightened as she wiped the tears from Ryoko's cheeks. "Even the greatest geniuses make stupid mistakes."

"Ka- kagato said you didn't love me anymore," Ryoko whispered as her eyes searched Washu's face. "Do you?"

Washu looked at the pain in Ryoko's eyes and swallowed loudly. She felt her own tears welling in her eyes. "What have I told you about stupid questions?" she asked with mock-sternness.

Ryoko let loose a small smile. "That I couldn't ask them 'till I was in graduate school?"

Washu nodded, a single tear escaping her eyes to slowly run down her cheek. "I've always kept it straight with you, Ryoko. So here's the deal. I trusted Kagato. I trusted you. You were having a chemical imbalance that made you act strangely. So, when you told me something that didn't add up, logic dictated that you were more likely to be wrong than Kagato. You see that right?"

Looking miserable, Ryoko nodded. "But it still. makes me feel.." Her voice was heavy with tears as she trailed off.

Washu drew Ryoko into another embrace. " I know, I know! You were telling me the truth while that bastard was using your condition to trick me. I don't know how I can even ask you to forgive me. My poor little Ryoko, I am so very, very sorry."

"If you still love me, it'll be okay," Ryoko murmured into Washu's hair.

"Oh Sweetie, I love you. More than I can say," Washu choked out.

"What will you do about him?" Ryoko asked, still holding her mother close.

Washu gently pulled away and looked her daughter in the eye. "I will see him expelled for his violations of GA ethical codes. Trying to make you his servant is a direct violation of regulation, with extreme consequences." She paused. "And if there is anything else," she said carefully, "I will see him rot in jail. If I don't kill him myself."

Ryoko suddenly seemed to find the pattern of the carpet very interesting. "Hmm."

The silence was too telling. Washu wanted to be sick, but now was not the time to fall apart. Pretending not to notice Ryoko's shamed expression, Washu scratched her head. "And he knows that I'd kick him out of the GA. I can't imagine why he thought I would just go along with it. Something's not adding up."

"Mom. That thing with my arm. I know Kagato did it. I saw him," Ryoko offered shyly, still half expecting to be disbelieved.

Washu nodded, her eyes far away as she pondered. "That makes sense, but why?"

"Why indeed?" asked an icy calm voice behind them.

Washu spun around. "You!" How did you get in here?"

"Wouldn't you like to know?" Kagato asked, pretending to inspect his nails. "You know, you really should be more careful in the way you lock your doors."

Washu stepped between Kagato and her child. "Get out."

"Not before I claim what is mine. Ryoko. Come. Now."

Washu swept her arm out and opened a portal behind Ryoko. She pushed her daughter into it with a bump of her hip. "Run!" she shouted as the portal closed. She cast a wary eye at her ex-student. "What have you done to my daughter you bastard? I trusted you!"

Kagato quirked a cool eyebrow. "Clever. Hiding her in your subspace network. I guess I can't kill you till we find her then."

Washu backed up. "Kill me?" she squawked. "Kill me?" Things were becoming surreal.

Kagato closed in on the shocked scientist. "Yes. We can't have 'mommy' trying to rescue that poor misbegotten monster of hers."

Washu's mind raced. She had to keep him talking, to find out what he was up to. That was the only way she could solve this dilemma. "Just leave Ryoko alone. What did she ever do to you?"

Kagato smiled, it looked frightening on his otherwise emotionless face. "It's more like what she WILL do for me once I get rid of you. I have spent years putting up with you Washu, while I waited for her to be ready. I'm not giving up now."

Washu backed up, feeling the staircase behind her. She went up one step, still facing him. "She's just a child!"

He paced forward. "A child? Not anymore. She is a beautiful package of chaos and destruction. We both know what she is capable of. There are so many possibilities."

She let him get closer, and pretended to be afraid. She had to keep him talking. "Why now?" Washu blurted out.

"You had to go and give her emotions, professor. I knew those unstable algorithms would arise at puberty. I had to wait it out. Otherwise I would have taken her years ago. Though I must say, some things were worth the wait."

Washu kept climbing the stairs backwards. "I can't believe this."

Assured of his victory, Kagato slowly menaced her. "Oh do. And the sad thing is that she figured it out before you did. I'm really quite ashamed of you professor." He paused and reached into his pocket. "Oh well. After all of the modifications I've made to her system over the years, I'm not surprised she beat you to the punch," he gloated.

"What have you done to her?!"

"Watch." Kagato took a thin rectangle out of his pocket and pressed a button. Somewhere upstairs Ryoko screamed. "Just listen to that. I have access to her nervous system. Sounds painful."

What was Ryoko doing back in the house? Washu kicked at Kagato, trying to distract him. "What have you done to her?!"

"Hacked into her system. All I need from you now is the main OS password."

"Hacked. there is no way."

He pressed the button again, eliciting another scream from Ryoko. "Oh how wrong you are. I was intimately involved in her creation. I saw the 'loopholes' you created for yourself. I imagine you put those access points there so you could get control of her in an emergency, or at least incapacitate her."

Still backing up the stairs, Washu shook her head in disbelief. "How did you find those things?"

"You have underestimated me far too long, my mentor. I've tired of it. It ends now." He lunged forward to grab her.

Washu popped out of the dimension before his fingers could touch her, but she could hear his snarl and subsequent shouted threat to Ryoko before the dimensional pocket closed around her.


. Sitting on the hard wooden chair in Tenchi's bedroom, Washu rubbed her temples. "And the rest you know from Ryoko's first memory, the one entire household saw in their dreams." It was getting late now, and the soft sounds of tree frog song drifted in through the open window.

Still sitting by Ryoko on the bed, Tenchi rubbed his palm over her hand while she slept. "I don't know what to say Washu."

Washu shrugged. "What's to say? It was a terrible time for Ryoko and me." She half-lowered her eyelids. "And it was my fault."

"Washu," Tenchi began tiredly. "Don't you think it's more complicated than that?"

The scientist's lips curled up into a snarl. "Do you know what he did to her? What he did to my baby girl?"

Tenchi nodded soberly. "She told me."

"I don't mean the crimes, you idiot. He tortured her in mind, body, and soul." She looked up at him with tear filled eyes. "He - he."

"Touched her," Tenchi said quietly, sparing Washu from finishing the sentence.

Screwing her eyes shut, Washu sucked in a gasp of air. "You knew?"

"She told me," Tenchi repeated. "She was afraid I wouldn't love her anymore."

"She's such a foolish girl," Washu laughed shakily, opening her eyes and running an index finger under them to catch the tears.

"Yeah, there is nothing that would make me stop loving her," Tenchi said, giving Ryoko's hand a squeeze.

"Thank you Tenchi," Washu said, getting to her feet. "You have saved Ryoko from her past, when no one else could." She walked over and wrapped her arms around him in a gentle hug.

"God, it's worse than watching a soap opera in here," Ryoko croaked.

Releasing Tenchi, Washu leaned over and peered at her daughter. "How are you feeling?"

Ryoko squinted up at Washu and Tenchi with bleary eyes. "Drunk," was the bald reply.

"I can't say I blame you," Washu returned, brushing Ryoko's bangs out her eyes.

"Tenchi?" Ryoko asked.

"I'm here too."

"I know. Where is the scrapbook?"

"It's broken," Washu cut in. "That last set must have been too emotional for its circuits." She smiled hopefully at Tenchi and crossed her fingers behind her back.

"What the hell are you talking about? Emotions can't blow out a circuit?" Ryoko whined, holding her head.

"Your's could," Washu muttered.

"We destroyed it," Tenchi admitted, honest to a fault, as Washu rolled her eyes at him.

"Tenchiii, I wasn't done."

Tenchi leaned over his love and caressed her face. "Do you really want to remember the horrible things that monster did to you?"

"I already remember," she whimpered. "Every day."

"And how is reliving it for me going to make it hurt less?" he asked earnestly. "Just let it go."

Washu climbed on to the bed and over Ryoko so she was on the side opposite of Tenchi. "Please let go. Give me a chance to be a good mother now. I don't want you to remember me that way," she implored, rubbing Ryoko's back.

"My head hurts," Ryoko moaned. "I need a drink."

"Ryoko," Washu pleaded. "Please be serious."

"My head seriously hurts. I don't care what you did to the damn scrapbook. Just get me a drink!" she demanded.

Washu's look of consternation faded into a motherly smile. In her own, singular way, Ryoko was trying to spare her mother any more painful discussions. "Okay." Washu reached into a dimensional pocket and withdrew a glass tumbler of water. She handed it to her daughter.

Ryoko took a sip. "Water?! Ha, ha, very funny!" she snarled. Washu leapt off the bed with a cackle. "It's called tough love Sweetie pie!" she called as she zipped out of the room while the getting was good.

Ryoko smiled, and took a long drink of the water. "This is just what I needed. I am really dehydrated. But I don't need to admit that to her!"

Tenchi chuckled and ran a hand through her hair. "You ought to be after six bottles of sake."

Ryoko scooted to a seated position and finished the rest of the water. She let the glass hang loosely from her fingers. "You guys are right." She paused after that, staring at the wall.

Tenchi stayed silent, knowing that sometimes Ryoko required time to get her thoughts together.

"Putting my memories in the scrapbook was different form just remembering them. It was like reliving them." She leaned her head against the bed's headboard. "Follow me?"

Tenchi nodded, scooting closer to her so she felt supported.

"At first it was fun. The good times with mom and all. But, seeing how early Kagato started making his move. it took the fun away."

"Yeah," Tenchi agreed.

"And these last few were just horrible." Her voice quavered a little, but grew strong again. "I know what happens next, and next and next for the following thousands of years. I don't want to relive it. You were right, Tenchi."

"You don't have to do anything you don't want to do anymore," Tenchi promised.

"No more dishes, or laundry, or toilet cleaning?" Ryoko asked sounding half- hopeful and half-teasing.

Tenchi gathered Ryoko into his arms and kissed her neck. "You don't have to be so tough all the time."

"Mmm. I'm used to it," she sighed sinking into his warmth.

Tenchi kissed lightly up Ryoko's neck and jaw line, then pulled back so he could look her in the eye. "I want you feel safe with me."

Ryoko snuggled in closer. "I feel safe."

"Then don't hide from me," he whispered in her ear.

She tilted her head so she could look him in the eyes. "I'm doing my best. It's not easy for me when I remember those days."

He nodded and began nibbling on her ear. "Then, lets make some new memories right now." He wanted to push those awful memories out of both of their minds and replace them with loving thoughts.

"Tenchi, not now, I have a headache."

He pulled back and looked at her with an incredulous smile. "You what?"

"No, I really have a headache! Honest!"

He still stared. She had never turned him down before.

"Ten-chan!" she giggled. "I had six bottles of Sake two hours ago. I really do have a headache!" Her giggles turned to pained laughter and she clutched at her head while she laughed at the confounded expression on his face.

Soon he joined in, his laughter dancing with hers as the happy sound chased the remaining sadness from the room.

The End.. of Mementos! Thanks for reading!

A/N I hope you all enjoyed this little experiment of mine. For those of you who don't like my spin on Kagato, I'm sorry you are so upset, but not sorry for writing as I did. We all bring our own histories and biases to our writing, and one of mine seems to be the amplification of the villains. When I was writing "Daria" fanfics, my version of Daria's mother, Helen, was really twisted. But that's just who I am and how I write. And I think such individuality on the author's parts is a blessing. Otherwise we would be reading cookie-cutter fanfics with no variety at all. Peace to you all! Smooooooch!