Disclaimer: I don't own any of the Tenchi character Pioneer does. Matt is my character however and if you would like to use him please obtain my permission first.

Tenchi stared out the star port of Ukinojo, the passing stars were lost in a swirl of images and emotions. Slowly he let the swirl of images condense into coherent thoughts on the events of the past few months. It all started when HE arrived. Yes the moment Matt appeared that set it all in motion. Tenchi brought forth an image of the wickedly handsome swordsman, and then banished it the moment he saw American entwined with her. No, the Jurian Prince let his thoughts drift back farther, to that last perfect day. Of course back then he would never have considered it a perfect day......

Slowly the images faded into a prism of colors and then a blissful moment of darkness. A ray of the rising sun streamed across the bed prompting Tenchi from his revive. Stretching into a yawn the young man sat up and came face to face with two bloodshot golden eyes. Freezing in mid stretch all Tenchi could do was stare in disbelief.

"Good Morning," from Ryoko came out slow and thick tongued as Tenchi got a face full of saki tainted morning breath. The overwhelming stench prompted him into action. Pulling back and swinging his legs over the side of the bed Tenchi let out a profound sigh.

"Ryoko do you ever sleep," said Tenchi with some irritability, "Maybe you could finish your chores if you got a decent nights sleep."

"But Tenchi I worry about you so much that I can't sleep," pleaded the ex-pirate. "If you let me sleep in here I wouldn't have to worry about you." This last part spoken with obvious relish.

"Ryoko I'm not going anywhere so you don't have worry," Tenchi explained for the millionth time, "Now would you leave so I can get dressed."

"Need any help," came Ryoko's typical enthusiastic response.

"I'll manage," spoken in a low irritated tone.

She'll never change, Tenchi thought to himself as he pulled a shirt over his head. Sliding the door shut behind him Tenchi headed down stairs, the wonderful aromas and high pitched humming coming from the kitchen told him Sasami was busy finishing up breakfast. Of all the girls here Tenchi had to enjoy his relationship with the little princess the best , there was no underlying desire between them just a simple friendship. There was also the fact that no one would eat around here if it wasn't for Tenchi's endless toil in the fields and Sasami's love of cooking. These pleasant thoughts were blown the dust as Tenchi felt two arms wrap around him and a single finger begin to make small circles on his chest. Muscles tensed and teeth clenched when he felt Ryoko tighten her grip on him almost grinding herself against his back. Before he could even begin to react a shrill voice caused him to tense even more and nearly crack his teeth.

"Ryoko, get your filthy claws off Lord Tenchi this instant," screeched the Ayeka.

"Good morning to you too princess," Said Ryoko, not even relinquishing her hold on Tenchi, winked knowingly at the crown princess, " Tenchi and I were just coming down to breakfast together."

"Oh come off it Ryoko," groaned Tenchi slipping free of her grasp.

"Ryoko you just leave Lord Tenchi alone, he obviously doesn't like you always hanging on him like a wet rag." this said with an air of true superiority.

"What would you know about it princess, Tenchi never even touches you!" Spit out the former pirate.

Sighing Tenchi slumped his shoulders seeing the immanent conflict. Turning away in frustration Tenchi opened the door to the kitchen and shut it just a the first explosion shook the house.

"Oh, Tenchi, good morning," piped an aproned Sasami turning from her cooking at the sound of the fighting just beyond the door.

"Morning Sasami, breakfast smells great," smiled Tenchi amazed that a twelve year old could prepare so much food in such a short amount of time.

"Ryoko, Ayeka please stop fighting," pleaded Mohoshi from the stairs. The blonde Galaxy Police Officer moved between the two combatants prying them apart. Just before a snarling Ryoko could grasp the equally angry princess Sasami slid open the door and called, "Breakfast is ready."

Tenchi made it a point to sit between Mohoshi and Sasami in protest of the constant war between his two suitors. Washu made a token appearance, sat down just long enough to shovel in her food, make a few polite comments and returned to her lab. The greatest scientist in the universe seemed preoccupied for the past few days, Tenchi wondered what was up and when it would explode in his face.

Breakfast finished Tenchi headed out to the fields while Ayeka helped Sasami clean up. Ryoko laid stomach down on her beam lazily watching Ayeka wipe down the table, occasionally turning her head when Mihoshi giggled at the television. Sighing in boredom Ryoko phased through the roof and took up her usual seat on the roof surveying the morning. Birds called out in the warm summer air while Ryoko sat in contemplation, she usually wasn't one for self analysis but after this morning even she had to admit things were down right stagnant around here. It had been months since the Jurian nobles had left and since then nothing had happened other than her daily battles with Ayeka. "Which I'm sick of, thank you, that princess should just learn that Tenchi and I are made for each other," Ryoko said to sky. Deciding she needed something to do Ryoko phased to the gates and set off to town to get some saki.

Ayeka hummed softly to herself as she swept the shrine path a slight smile on her face as she thought of Tenchi who was currently at sword practice with her brother. The princess allowed the pleasant thoughts of her prince play through her mind, the look of focused concentration on his face as he went through the routines of her home planet and then the stunned confusion as Yosho threw in a sudden twist knocking Tenchi to the floor. Giggling she decided the yard was good enough and sauntered off to try to catch the end of the session. Walking down the steps she heard the clatter of wooden swords in rapid succession. Looking into the clearing she saw the two squaring off both breathing heavily and covered in sweat. The two came together with a crash as the wooden bokens almost splintered with the viscous impact. In a flash they connected again and again in rapid succession each swipe more brutal than the last. Ayeka inhaled sharply in surprise. Tenchi hearing the sound look behind in distraction just long enough to catch a blow to the gut dropping him to his knees. "You must stay focused Tenchi, next time it might be a real sword that hits you," lectured Yosho, and then he sighed," Try harder." With that the old man walked off towards the shrine.

Ayeka helped Tenchi to his feet "Oh Tenchi you poor dear, why were you and my brother fighting so hard?"

"Grandpa says now that I've mastered the movements I need to incorporate them into real combat," Tenchi huffed trying to catch his breath. Together the two made their way back to the house in a leisurely fashion, Tenchi trying to recover from the training session while Ayeka was just happy to spend a quite moment alone with him.

Tenchi lowered himself slowly into the warm water of the onsen sighing in momentary contentment. Gratefully alone Tenchi sank deeper into the water letting his thoughts drift away. The last several months had pasted by in a blur of daily routine and monotony. They all seemed stuck, at first the situation of the love triangle was fine as it was, unresolved. But now it felt burdensome to Tenchi always having to remain neutral so as not to hurt anyone's feelings, problem was he couldn't decide himself who he was more in love with.

Ayeka was an obvious choice, beautiful and demure (at least until you put Ryoko in the room) he was also related to her by blood, the fact that she was in line to rule the most powerful empire in the universe didn't hurt. On the other hand she was so formal and lady like it always seemed like she was on a pedestal not really human, but the personification of royalty.

Next up was Ryoko her daily antics haunted his dreams, and there were times he was sorely tempted to give into her endless affections. Her frank forward personality coupled with her inexperience in things other than combat made her a fun person to be with (Until Ayeka shot some barbed comment her way). On the flipside her one mindedness irritated him endlessly and the prospect of never getting away from her truly frightened him.

Now the water started to get murky when considering the other girls. When Mihoshi first arrived she had expressed and interest in him and her bubbly personality was appealing, until her clumsiness brought on the next disaster. Besides Mihoshi had not shown any feelings toward him in some time. Washu flat out scared him. Tenchi was pretty sure her interest was purely physical if anything, and he believed that she came on to him more to rankle her daughter and Ayeka than anything else.

In the end, only his relationship with Sasami seemed honest and uncomplicated. If only Sasami were Tsunami now, thought Tenchi smirking in spite of himself. Feeling refreshed the young prince picked himself out of the warm water and pleasant quite Tenchi headed back into reality.

The setting sun cast long shadows across the road way as Ryoko walked home after having spent a nice day in town browsing through the various shops along the main drag, her purpose of procuring saki forgotten until the sun hung low in the sky. Now with a jug of saki slung over her shoulder and a new bracelet on her wrist Ryoko started back. She could have just phased home at will but the walk gave her time to think and she enjoyed the various sites of the country side. Seven hundred years spent in a cave had given her a new appreciation of nature. Predictably her thoughts swung towards Tenchi as she strolled along, She wished he felt about her how she felt about him, she knew he cared for her but, Ryoko wanted more than that, wanted him to love her openly like she did. All she really wanted was for some one to love her and accept her for what she was. Shaking her head in frustration Ryoko took a swig of saki to clear away her depression. And then she tripped.

"Washu have you seen Ryoko it's almost diner time and no one's seen her since breakfast," Tenchi asked to Washu's image in the door's tiny window.

"No Tenchi last time I saw her was at breakfast, let me check hold on," Washu's image faded away and the portal swung open, the diminutive genius stepped out a look of concentration crossed her face for a moment, "She's been in town all day window shopping and now she's walking back with a jug of saki," said Washu, then a look of doubt creased her brow," that's odd now I've lost the connection. Oh well she's fine but at her pace she'll probably miss dinner."

"Thank you little Washu I'll tell Sasami to save some food for Ryoko," Tenchi said and turned to leave fast before Washu could drag him into her lab. Washu stood there trying to reestablish the link, she had lost connection from time to time but it was always simple to reconnect. It wasn't her or Ryoko that was the cause either something or someone was purposely blocking the link. The greatest scientific genius in the universe shrugged and went back into her lab figuring her daughter was more than capable of dealing with trouble. What Washu didn't know is that in that moment everything had changed.

"Hey you ok," came a voice from above as Ryoko pushed herself off the ground after a rather unexpected, and utterly embarrassing fall flat on her face.

"I'm fine," muttered an indignant Ryoko, who ever did that was going to pay dearly.

"Here let me help you up," said the voice in oddly accented Japanese as a hand appeared before her. Ryoko brushed the hand away and stood on her own glaring daggers at her attacker. What she found was that she was glaring daggers at the man's shoulders. Adjusting her glare up two notches she caught his face, clean shaven, strong jaw line, with a just a hint of an apologetic smile across his lips. His eyes were hidden behind wrap around sunglasses and his hair covered by a gray cap.

"Sorry I sat down earlier to rest and fell asleep with my legs across the path," Explained the stranger as he took off the cap to run his hand trough his dull brown hair before replacing the cap.

"Yeah well next time don't sleep on the path some one might mug you or something," sputtered Ryoko her anger somehow spent, "what are you doing out here at night anyways?"

"Oh, me, I'm on a walking tour of Japan, I heard there was an old shrine nearby dedicated to a famous samurai I wanted to see it and talk to the priest about legend of a demon that the samurai imprisoned. See I travel around studying the occult and such. I'm also a martial arts student so this seemed like the perfect place to visit when I heard about it. What about you what are you doing out here so late?"

"I was on my home before you so rudely attacked me, but your out of luck there is no demon imprisoned at the shrine," Ryoko said over her shoulder as she turned and started to walk away.

"Wait up a sec, I said I was sorry about tripping you, my legs are too long. Look let me make it up to you by seeing you home, like you said it could be dangerous around here," offered the stranger taking off his sunglasses," Guess I don't need these anymore today."

"Whatever," mumbled Ryoko as she started down the path home.

"Aren't you going the wrong way, the town is back that way," pointed the stranger.

"Look whoever you are I know where I'm going, you can come along if you want the shrine is this way, I live nearby," snarled Ryoko turning on the tall stranger glaring straight into his eyes, his eyes. Ryoko blinked once and then stared, blue eyes were unusual in Japan, but this mans eyes were truly odd, a ring of purple surrounding sky blue with a starburst of green around the pupil that seemed to pulse and glow for just a moment.

"Sorry about the assumption, I didn't think anything other than the shrine was out here," apologized the traveler, "By the way the my name's Matt what's yours? I should have introduced myself sooner."

"I'm Ryoko, look it's getting late and I've already missed dinner so can we just go," Ryoko sighed, of all the luck, now she couldn't just phase home on the chance he might see her when he got to the shrine. Still things could be worse, at least he was cute.

She glance back to appraise him as they walked in companionable silence, he was tall, maybe a little over six feet a little on the lean side but it was hard to tell the way he was dressed in loose cargo pants, black shirt, and dark jacket. It was only then she noticed the hilt of a sword sticking up over the shoulder strap of his back pack. I wonder what that's for, Ryoko thought to herself.

"I had it commissioned in Owari after my master, in the States, said my training was complete. The sword was the main reason I came to Japan, but after I got here I wanted to travel and see the country maybe train with some teachers here," Ryoko looked at him stunned. Had he just read her thoughts?

"No, I just saw you looking at it, and wanted to explain its not a threat," Matt explained good naturedly. Ryoko shook her head , Nah only Washu can do that. Satisfied Ryoko trudged along the path glad she would be home soon.

"It's getting real late Grandpa, I wonder if Ryoko is all right," said Tenchi looking out over the lake from the porch.

"Ryoko will be fine Tenchi there is not a soul on earth, living outside this house, that can harm her," said the old priest also looking intently across the lake, "Yet I do sense an odd presence nearby."

Tenchi looked at his grandfather and then back out across the water, Yeah, he thought, there is a weird feeling tonight.

Together the odd pair continued their journey through the darkness as the stars twinkled overhead.

"So your from America huh, you speak Japanese really well," Ryoko said bored of the silence and wanting to know more about her mysterious companion.

"Yep I'm American, from Arizona actually, Japan is a lot different from the desert. I guess that's why my master decided to move there. He's the one that taught me Japanese so I could learn better, it's easier to learn techniques when the names all aren't translated and the depth and meaning lost in the translation," Explained Matt, "Do you like living out here?"

"Sometimes, I've been here so long it seems like it's the only place for me to be," Said Ryoko looking at her feet, "That, and I don't think Tenchi will ever leave."

"Well I can understand that, but sometimes you have to pry yourself away to see if it's really what you want," remarked the stranger as the two continued along. Ryoko bit her lip and thought about that last statement for a moment, did she really value what she had? She had never questioned herself like that before, her love for Tenchi seemed so pure and truthful. Was she questioning her love for Tenchi? No I love Tenchi and Tenchi loves me! Gritting her teeth Ryoko picked up her pace now wanting to get home more than ever just to escape her thoughts on this seemingly endless walk. Finally the lake came into site and the lights of the house on the other side glowed in welcome. Ryoko and her companion walked along the bridge up to the house where she saw Tenchi waiting anxiously.

"Ryoko I'm glad your alright," greeted Tenchi, "Who's this?" Before Tenchi could get out any more Ryoko had flung her arms around him and was crushing the life from him.

"Oh Tenchi were you really worried about me, I'm so happy," Exclaimed Ryoko. Tenchi went rigid at her touch and then sighed in frustration. When would she ever learn.

"So you finally made it back, and when you do you have wake everyone up with your yelling," scolded Ayeka," It's already midnight, have you no consideration, especially after leaving without telling anyone. Really you have no shame." This said the stranger stepped up and took Ayeka's hand nodding his head in respect and said," I fault is mine mistress Ryoko took the time to show me here so that I might visit the shrine."

"You came to see the shrine?" asked a befuddled Tenchi, "No one ever comes out this far to visit the shrine."

"Well, yes, you see, I study ancient legends and heard about Masaki shrine and wanted to see it for myself," explained the tall traveler, By the way my name is Matt, and you must be Tenchi Ryoko told me about you."

"Oh, well the temple is closed now but Grandpa will be there tomorrow morning, why don't you stay here tonight and I can show in the morning," offered Tenchi finally extracting himself from Ryoko.

"I really appreciate that," said Matt as Tenchi led them all inside, once in the light he got a good look at their visitor. He removed his shoes as he entered the house and set down his back pack and sword, Tenchi had never seen one quite like it, a katana with the handle shaped like a serpent the gripped wrapped in snake skin the hand guard was shaped into two serpents locked in combat. Tenchi shifted his gaze from the sword to the traveler as he removed his cap and jacket which he folded and set on the couch. His hair was a dull brown parted down the center, bangs just long enough to brush his odd eyes which he pushed back with both hands. Stretching his arms upward Tenchi watched the tight defined muscles flex. Without the jacket it was easy to see that Matt was in excellent shape. Tenchi frowned, suddenly bothered that this handsome stranger had just spent most of the night with Ryoko.

"Please sir make yourself comfortable," said Ayeka guiding the traveler over to the couch," you must be very tired, please rest and we can all talk in the morning."

"Thank you mistress, I really appreciate all this," the stranger said lying down on the couch, "Good night." With that the traveler closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.

"Ryoko where did you meet this guy," Tenchi asked at a loss.

"On the path back home, he was sleeping and I tripped over his legs," explained Ryoko with a tired yawn, "we can deal with him in the morning goodnight." Ryoko phased up to her beam and lay back against her pillow asleep at once. Tenchi stood there for a moment trying to figure out what had just happened. Finally he shrugged to tired to ponder it now he could deal with it tomorrow.

Authors note:

Well what do you think this is me first fic so please don't flame me too bad. While I'm not a fan of original characters in fan fics I had to have a way to set things in motion and couldn't think of another way to do it. I need some one to get all the characters thinking and set the wheels in motion. I already have future chapters in the works, please tell me what you think but I'll continue regardless.

Smack54