A Very Sad Tale Part 9 - Epilogue
It did not take long for Ryo-Ohki to bring Tenchi and Ryoko back to earth. During the entire trip Ryoko had been going through a number of emotional problems. The first of her emotional problems was easy to understand as Tenchi was having trouble with suddenly loosing Ayeka as well. The other major problem that they both faced was now that their friend had brought them together what should they do? He had finally done it; he had told Ryoko that he loved her. But it had been at Ayeka's death that he had done so. Her death had been to save them, and it had been her that got him to admit that he loved Ryoko.
On numerous occasions Ryoko had said that she loved him. But now that her dream had been fulfilled she was unsure what to do. She did not feel like throwing herself at him trying to seduce him as she had done many times before. Doing such a thing seemed wrong to her after loosing such a good friend and adversary. The pirate had learned to care for Ayeka as a friend, and even though they fought it was a family. A Strange family, but they were a family.
So for most of the trip she just sat in his lap being held gently in his arms. She felt comforted and empty. Though she had devised over a hundred different ways to get the princess out of the way she did not want it like this. In the recesses of her mind she found that she almost wanted to give this up just to get her back. The only thing stopping her was that Tsunami had said that she does not want to come back. And Ayeka had appeared and said that she died for them, to do anything other than what she asked just seemed wrong.
Both of them held concerns for Sasami, as Ayeka had asked them to watch over the little princess. Ryoko had always cared for the girl, as she was the first female to ever think of her as anything other than a pirate or a demon. When she had first met Sasami the little princess had only called her old and not ugly or a demon or anything, she even called her a lady. The ex-pirate could only smile at the memories of Sasami.
Tenchi worried as well about most of what Ryoko thought. From what to do to about what Ayeka had said to actually breaking the news to Sasami. He thought she might already know but he was not sure. He also worried about what to tell the others, he loved Ryoko and he did not intended to back out on his decision. Though it had only been a few hours since he had said it, his heart had known it for a very long time. Even now as he held her it felt so right to hold her, but he did not know what to do from here. Slowly he decided to take it slow and let what he felt for her to grow.
When they arrived on Earth they found all of their friends waiting for them. Sasami was waiting too, but she already knew what had happened to her sister. The reunion had been a teary one as everyone had been crying over the loss. Katsuhito had been extremely upset over the events as well and soon after they had landed he had left them to go to his tree for prayer. If any had followed him they would have seen him weeping and crying over the loss of his sister.
In the next few days they had informed the emperor and his wives of the battle and of what happened to Ayeka so they were rushing towards earth. Washu had tried what she could but nothing she knew of could bring Ayeka back. Sasami had spent the next few days crying in her room and refused to come out or to let anyone in for some time. Of all people it had been Ryoko that had gone in to see her and was finally able to bring her out.
And so it was that three days from the salvation of this dimension that a funeral service was held on Earth and the body of Ayeka Jurai was placed next to that of her brothers' wife and his daughter. Her father and mothers were there for the funeral as well and at first the Emperor blamed Tenchi & Ryoko for his daughters' death. He was screaming at them asking how they could be so careless as to let her get hurt. Sasami had burst in on them looking angrier that they had ever remembered seeing her in the past. "You don't get it do you? She cared for them so she had to save them. Tsunami had wanted to bring Ayeka back but sister wouldn't allow her to even if she could."
Azusa looked at her strangely, "What do you mean she didn't want to come back?" Tenchi then told him of his daughters' last words, but he conveniently left out the part about her telling him to live and to love Ryoko. He had started thinking about this and was almost ready to change his mind when Sasami had told them what the battle meant. It had come, as a surprise to everyone that in this fight the fate of everyone was determined. And even though he had lost a daughter he no longer blamed them for it. He was still hurt and wept openly over her body though.
Sasami did not tell anyone of Washu's connection to Tokimi or Tsunami. Both goddesses' had asked her not to reveal that yet, and she agreed reluctantly. It did not seem right to let Washu think that she could have interfered or changed things when she was forbidden to. But since she did not get a chance Tsunami had asked her to not reveal at least that mush as it would not have changed things anyway.
As the months passed Tenchi and Ryoko were able to share their love for each other and they were finally able to tell everyone about the complete experience. He told them about why he destroyed the tunnel of love and why he had left to go after Ryoko, what it felt like to be blind for so long. And how Ayeka had told him and Ryoko to live for her. The biggest surprise to them was how Ayeka had gotten him to admit whom he loved. But it still did not ease the pain of her loss, nor did it comfort the Lady Misaki when she learned of it.
Tenchi proclaimed his love to Ryoko and he even proposed to her later that year. It had been a teary event and of the girls only one was as happy as Ryoko. Washu had been the one to be the happy about this as well, as it gave her mind something else to think of than seeing the battle playing over and over again in her mind. As she thought she had nightmares for quite some time about it though she tried to keep that a secret.
Just like he was asked to Tenchi loved Ryoko and they were married one year later on the day that their friend died. This was done to honor her and her memory, as well as to fulfil her wished. The service was held with an empty spot next to Ryoko that was reserved for her Maid of Honor, her best friend Ayeka. It was after Tenchi had kissed her at the end of the ceremony and they were presented to the world and Tenchi and Ryoko Masaki that she swore she saw Ayeka standing next to her smiling brightly.
As a part of their honeymoon Tenchi took Ryoko back to the Tunnel of Love that he destroyed so long ago. The park had rebuilt it and had they been paying attention at the end of the ride instead of seeing just Ryoko scaring patrons at the end, they would have seen the nameless demon beside her. He bore a striking resemblance to Tenchi, but no one knew his name. But they had other things in mind during the ride, and as she had hoped on their first trip he kissed her in the tunnel of love.