The Insidious, and its perils.


*

It was now nearing noon. Tenchi and Ryoko had just made it on the bus in which they took after taking the train. They were now traveling through a rocky pathway in the country side, each one ready to fall to sleep.

As the bus jumbled into an annoying rhythm of bumps and skids; Tenchi shook his head as he suddenly felt nauseous. He felt his eyes start to droop to sleep, and shook his head once more. Feeling a weight suddenly on his right shoulder, he turned to the cause and smiled.

The cyan-haired woman seated near the window had given up on trying to keep her eyes open. The side of her face settled to the side of his shoulder as she succumbed to a short nap.

Tenchi gazed down at the sleeping woman, her hair was all he could really see; he didn't dare to wake her, he didn't mind.. really.

The bus trailed on, picking up others along the stops and vice versa. At one bump on the road, Ryoko's whole upper body almost slipped forward, if it hadn't been for Tenchi's arm shooting out for her and placing her back beside him.

Unfortunately for Tenchi, Ryoko had awoken from the event, and half dazed she sat up straight and looked around timidly, "Are we there?" she asked softly.

Tenchi gave a smile, "No, not yet." he replied just as soft, eyeing the woman and adoring her childish questioning face looking up at him. Her face didn't stick long at looking at him though, and after a while she moved them to the window.

"Did I fall asleep?" she asked, this time not facing him.

"Yeah.. for a little while before you almost hit your head on the back of the seat." Tenchi replied, trying to hold his will to chuckle about it, "But I caught you."

"Oh.." Ryoko's cheeks gave a soft tint of red, "Thanks." she muttered.

"I really didn't think you'd like it if you woke up from an unwelcomed hit on the head." he bemused, trying to be careful not to be so harsh about it in his tone. It was all a weak joke, but he wasn't sure with Ryoko's condition, if she'd take it well.

"I probably wouldn't." she said back; the hint of amusement in her voice almost surprised Tenchi.

Just as Tenchi was about to say something else, encouraging the sudden uplift in Ryoko's condition, the bus stopped in front of a sign he very much recognized.

The bus jolted into a halt, and Tenchi and Ryoko stood up from their seats and made their way out of the vehicle and into the dirt path towards he Masaki residence.

*
They walked, unbelievably slow, for Tenchi knew that Ryoko wasn't in a hurry to get back. Her strides were painstaking and a little annoying, but Tenchi followed at her pace, not daring to force her any faster.

It was really frightening, seeing the drastic changes in her breaths as they walked closer and closer to the house that stood less than a mile away. Feeling her tension, Tenchi pulled by next to her and grabbed hold of her hand in his.

She looked up at him in wonder, and he returned it with a reassuring smile as he urged her to move in a normal and more brisk pace.

Tenchi could feel the sudden weight she placed on her heels as he pulled her, and her faint meek struggling against his hold. He turned to her sympathetically and almost pleading her to walk faster; he watched her eyed him the same way and slowly shake her head side to side.

So he stopped, reaching near the gates of the Masaki household, not wanting to pull her when she's showing that she didn't want to go any faster. He looked down at her and sighed, "What's wrong, Ryoko?"

She gave a soft whine, her eyes focused at something far away behind Tenchi. Following her gaze, Tenchi's eyes met up with Washu's (in her adult form). He made a 180degree turn around to face her, and greeted her kindly, "Ms. Washu... uhm.. Good afternoon."

Washu only kept her eyes to her daughter; she looked ready to give her a really nasty lecture. She passed a quick glanced at Tenchi, noticing he was also there, "Good afternoon, Tenchi. Thank you for bringing my daughter home."

"It's nothing..." he trailed off and scratched his head when he noticed the sudden tense atmosphere between the mother and daughter.

"But it means so much more, Tenchi." Washu spoke defiantly, her voice seemingly uncaring while her eyes burned holes at her daughter, "My daughter was being foolish, thank you for bringing her back."

Golden eyes flickered their immense flames, "I wasn't being foolish." Ryoko retorted through gritted teeth.

"Oh... you were not?" Washu began to say, "You are ill and yet you run away to Tokyo in the rain. How.. 'unfoolish', eh Ryoko?"

Tenchi felt the air suddenly became heavier around him. He watched as the two glared at each other; Washu's eyes dangerously content, and Ryoko's threatening her silently. He wondered whether or not this was a normal thing with mothers and daughters.

"It wasn't foolish!" Ryoko choked out, "I.. I had to see Tenchi." she finished softly.

His head shooting up to the person who spoke his name, Tenchi swore he heard her say it almost.. embarrassed. He could tell the tone came directly from her shattered pride.

All the while, silence filled the spot between them, and Tenchi thanked god that Washu began to melt her icy-attitude.

"I know, Ryoko, but you got me so worried." she said softly, her brows shifting into hurt, "Who knows what might have happened to you while you traveled there! You cut off your link with me, and what would happen if you had suddenly collapsed? How am I supposed to save you?"

"I'm-I'm sorry." Ryoko responded defeatedly, her face bowing down to the dirt path beneath her feet, "I won't do it again.. I swear."

A smile curved Washu's lips slowly, "It's alright, Ryoko." she walked up to her and placed a hand around her shoulders, walking her towards the house.

Tenchi stood in his spot as he witnessed the most 'oddest' thing since he got back here. He couldn't believe Ryoko actually.. softened to her mother. Usually she'd try to push any help away coming from her mother, proving that she didn't need 'The Greatest Scientific Genius's' help. He also found Washu's actions strange, as she matured greatly through her adult form; showing that she was really a responsible mother.

Noticing he was being left behind, he started to trail behind them, watching Ryoko hesitate steps as they neared the front door. Tenchi's eyes dimmed, remembering why he was back here anyways.

He took a deep breath, and followed the two women inside.

*

"Welcome home, Lord Tenchi!.. Oh yes.. hello again, Ryoko."

Aeka was the first to welcome them once they stepped in; her face shining at the sight of the dark-haired boy, and scowling at the sight of the cyan-haired woman.

"So.. how was your trip, Tenchi? Are you tired? Would you like to sit?" Aeka turned to her attention to Tenchi, giving him an affectionate smile.

Tenchi scratched the back of his head nervously and chuckled, "Hello again, miss Aeka. I'm not tired at all. I'm quite fine."

"Tenchi?" came Sasami's voice from the kitchen, and in a haste her head popped out of the kitchen doorway, "Welcome back!"

"Hello Sasami." Tenchi turned to the little girl and greeted. His eyes then wandered to the figure of his grandfather's on the bottom stairwell, "Grandpa." he obliged and bowed.

"Tenchi, good afternoon." Yosho said while he walked up to him. He turned to Washu, who kept in her adult form, and smiled at Ryoko beside her, "Ah, welcome back Ryoko. Are you alright now?"

"Yes." Ryoko mumbled, not looking up from her gaze of the wooden floor beneath her.

Washu crossed her arms, "I'll be making sure she doesn't do this again." she huffed and glanced an angry look at Ryoko's way.

"Ryoko's back too! Yay!" Sasami cried from the kitchen and ran out to give Ryoko a hug.

Aeka cringed when he saw her little sister do this, and quickly pulled her back by the collar, "Sasami! What do you think you are doing?"

Sasami looked up at her sister with a look of mixed confusion, "I was only giving Ryoko a hug, Aeka." she replied quietly.

"There isn't anything wrong with a hug." Ryoko began, her eyes narrowing towards Aeka, "Do you think I'll kill her or something?"

"No, not kill her, more like give her some sort of demon disease." Aeka retorted, lifting her chin up highly at her.

Ryoko's eyes widened at the one word she had said: disease. Not just a disease, a demon disease.

She doesn't know about what's happening... Washu didn't tell her, did she?

Washu turned to her daughter in comfort, "Ryoko....?" She noticed that her eyes suddenly became distant and blank.

Tenchi noticed this also, "Hey.. what's wrong?"

--"Mom.. did you tell Aeka?"

Washu heard a faint voice in her mind, and saw that it was only Ryoko speaking to her through their link. She turned her daughter's face towards her and shook her head.

"Ryoko.. no. You're overreacting." she said softly to her.

Ryoko squinted and pulled away from her mother's hands. Brushing past Yosho, Sasami, and Aeka, she made her way towards Washu's lab, murmuring a brisk apology to Aeka.

And Washu watched her; her own daughter leave an argument because of her personal frustration. As a mother, she felt scarred along with her, and deeply hopeless as she must feel. She shook her head, "Sasami, call me when it's lunchtime."

"But.. Little Washu, is Ryoko okay?" Sasami spoke in a tight voice, her eyes lowering to her feet.

Washu turned her eyes to the little girl and smiled, "Yes, she's fine Sasami." her eyes moved to Aeka and glared, ".. She's absolutely fine." with that, she excused herself and followed her daughter to her lab.

After a moment, Aeka yawned and spoke, "Well, whatever's wrong with the demon doesn't concern me at all." she drawled and offered to help Sasami in the kitchens.

Once Tenchi heard Aeka's little 'add-on' on the event that was based on something oblivious to her, it had made him want to grab hold of her shoulders and shake her for all she's worth. Being the calm type, Tenchi only stood there and eyed her in disbelief; telling himself that it was only because she didn't know about Ryoko's situation, that Aeka is acting uncivilized.

"Aeka doesn't know." Yosho informed him as the two sisters left them be, "Control that anger, Tenchi."

Tenchi looked up to his grandfather and sighed, "I am. But.. I don't know why it's even surfacing."

Yosho smiled and gave a nod, "Ryoko told you, yes?"

"Yeah.. is it true?" Tenchi asked in worry, "I mean, is Washu serious with this?"

Adjusting his glasses, Yosho cleared his throat, "As much as I would like to deny this sudden news also, I can't. Washu is very serious, and she has proven this. I have seen the test results, and from the looks of it..." he trailed off and shook his head.

Tenchi glanced a look at the beam above him. He didn't know why his eyes trailed that way; maybe because that low beam was Ryoko's usual spot. A sharp pain struck him inside as the thought of never being able to see Ryoko around, or on that beam ever, came along. His eyes dimmed and he ran a hand down his hair, "I'll be upstairs, Grandpa. Tell me when it's lunchtime alright?"

Yosho patted a hand on Tenchi's back as he passed him to the stairs, "You look like you need some rest, Tenchi. I'll call you in a while."

*
Ryoko sat still in the voidless room, her arms wrapped around her waist firmly.

"Are you getting more weak, Ryoko?" Washu was now towering over her, eyeing her daughter with pure motherly concern.

"Weak.. as in dying?" Ryoko gave a deep breath, "Yeah.. I think so."

Washu placed her hands over her daughter's cheeks and gave her a meek smile, "Don't be afraid, my little Ryoko." she whispered.

Ryoko eyed her mother in wonder, "What do you mean, don't be afraid? How else am I suppose to react?" she looked away from Washu's gaze, "I am dying. One of these days, I'll wake up somewhere else other than here... or in this world. I'll never see you, or anyone else." she gave a choked sob, "I'll never see Tenchi..."

"I.. I have a confession, Ryoko." Washu began, already receiving Ryoko's attention, "I want you to know something about this 'illness' that's killing you."

"What's that?" Ryoko asked hopefully; hoping that maybe it was something about a possible cure, but the reply was something unexpected to her. It was something more unbelievable than the news of her death. But through the whole time Washu explained to her, slowly things began to fit in her mind.

Things that she never knew were there.
*

A/N:
--Things you readers would truly love to know, neh? ^_^

Thanks again to all my reviewers. I luv you guys! About this little 'confession' about Ryoko's illness, that won't be explained until we reach the first story-climax, so be patient my faithful readers. Oh yeah.. I would like to do this also, just to keep the mood here normal.

On the Next Chapter:

Ryoko: Hehe, bet you can't guess what's this little secret of me, is?
Tenchi: -_-; I already know...
Ryoko: Wha? You can't yet!!
Strife21: Shut up Tenchi! You're not supposed to read ahead!
Tenchi: .. It's my show, I can do what I want.
Strife21: ¬_¬.. ooh yeah? It's my fic, that *I* am writing. I could easily change this you know?
Ryoko: Bwhahaha!
Tenchi: O.o; eh..what do you mean by.. change?
Strife21: ¬_¬ .. wouldn't you like to know?
Ryoko: ^o^!!!
Tenchi: x.x; OkAy! I sorry.... ::twiddles thumb::
Strife21: ¬_¬ .. gewd boi...